After a lackluster road trip, the slumping Seattle Mariners are set to open their longest homestand of the season.
Unfortunately for them, they haven't played very well at Safeco Field so far.Seattle tries to get back on track when it faces the lowly Houston Astros on Thursday night.The Mariners (22-23) have dropped five of seven after closing a 2/3 trip with a 4-3 loss to Texas on Wednesday. Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer but Seattle went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position."It's been a grueling schedule and a lot of it has been on the road," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website. "All in all, I like the grittiness of this club. I like their attitude. They believe they can win."I said it would take about 50 games and I think they're starting to round into shape a little bit. Do we have some challenges on offense? Yeah. We knew that coming out of spring training. But I still like where we are."Only the Chicago White Sox have played as many road games as the Mariners, who are 14-13 as visitors. Meanwhile, Seattle has gone 8-10 at home while hitting a major league-worst .210."If you compete on the road and win your share of games at home, you have a chance to be successful," said McClendon, whose team plays its next 11 at Safeco. "Ideally we'd like to play eight to 10 games over at home and somewhere around .500 on the road, or even better."The Mariners have split six meetings with the Astros (17-30), who managed two hits in Wednesday's 2-1 road defeat to the Los Angeles Angels. George Springer provided all of the offense with his fourth homer as Houston suffered its 24th consecutive loss when scoring three or fewer runs.Springer suffered a hip injury while getting picked off in the ninth inning, leaving his status for Thursday unclear. The rookie has batted .298 in his last 15 games.The Astros will try to break out against Seattle rookie Roenis Elias (3-3, 3.88 ERA). The left-hander yielded four runs over seven innings of Saturday's 4-3 loss to Minnesota.Elias has never faced the Astros, who will send Jarred Cosart (3-3, 4.41) to the mound. The right-hander has posted a 4.09 ERA and been backed by a combined 10 runs of support in winning two straight starts for the first time in his two-year career.Cosart surrendered three runs, seven hits and four walks over five innings to beat the White Sox 6-5 on Saturday."For him to have to battle the way he had to battle with a lot of deep counts, and didn't really have his command, and make it through five innings and be in position to win the game, you have to walk away and say to yourself, 'Wow,'" manager Bo Porter said. "He continued to make pitches and not fold. That's good for his maturation."Cosart has gone without a decision despite posting a 1.54 ERA in two starts against the Mariners. He'll try to cool off Cano, who has hit .462 with eight RBIs over the last 10 games."He's been pretty consistent all year, really," McClendon said. "It's starting to warm up a little bit and he's starting to hit a little better."Cano has batted .338 in 17 career games against the Astros.