The Astros will start their first road trip as an American League team on Monday with a nine-game, 10-day trip along the West Coast. They'll look for another strong performance from Philip Humber as he takes the mound for his second start of the season, against the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Astros skipper Bo Porter said his club won't be too unfamiliar with their opponents due to the club's Interleague Play over the years while still a member of the National League.
Still, Porter said, the long trip will be a chess match.
"It's a difference, because we now have a full slate of American League games and as we go through the division, we're going to learn things about our division foes and they're going to learn things about us. It'll be constant adjustments as we go along," said Porter
Humber was solid in his last start against the Rangers, allowing one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. His performance lowered his ERA against AL West teams to 2.80 in 70 2/3 innings in his career. Houston will need that same kind of play from him as it tries to rebound from its 9-3 loss and series sweep against the A's on Sunday.
The Mariners will answer with lefty Joe Saunders. Saunders struggled in his last start, giving up seven hits and four runs in four innings against the A's.
Saunders should have a strong home-field advantage, as he is 6-0 at Safeco Field with a 2.13 ERA in nine visiting starts.
"It'll be a good atmosphere, it'll be loud, which I like, so it should be a fun experience," Saunders said. "I've pitched well there, but that was against the Mariners," Saunders said. "Pitching against different teams now is a little bit different, but I do like pitching there. It's a very comfortable ballpark for me, so hopefully I can do well for the fans."
Mariners: New dimensions at Safeco
Saunders will be the first pitcher to throw in the Mariners' new outfield dimensions on Monday. The Mariners moved Safeco Field's fences in between four to 17 feet in left field and four feet in right-center. Regardless, Saunders said he hasn't paid the adjustments much notice.
"I try not to pay attention to that stuff, honestly. Fences are fences, bases are bases, mounds are mounds," Saunders said. "I'm pointed the other way and the fences are behind me, so let's keep that in the rear view."
Astros: Castro on tour
Astros catcher Jason Castro said he's excited heading into his club's first road trip as an AL team. The three-year veteran out of California was drafted by the Astros in 2008 and has spent his only two Major League seasons in the NL.
"It's a chance to see the rest of our competition in the league," said Castro. "We don't have the opportunity to play them in Spring Training, so it will be the first time we've seen a lot of these guys. It's exciting from that standpoint."
• Monday will mark Houston's second visit to Seattle and its first since '04.
• The Astros will try to bounce back following their fifth straight loss on Sunday. Houston has failed to crack three runs in a game since its 8-2 win against the Rangers on Opening Night.