Once early-season darlings, the Seattle Mariners found themselves desiring a victory in the worst way Sunday. They manifested that longing into a 7-3 road win over the Miami Marlins that snapped a four-game skid and kept them above .500.

Seattle will continue its nine-game road swing Monday in the first of three games against the Houston Astros.

The Mariners’ victory in the finale against Miami featured another strong pitching performance from right-hander Logan Gilbert and the first career home run from rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez, a three-run blast in the sixth inning that gave Seattle a 5-0 lead.

The combination of Gilbert carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Rodriguez producing a 450-foot shot off Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara undergirded the positive vibes from the victory.

“It’s a nice way to be headed to Houston,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We certainly needed the ‘W.'”

Left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-2, 3.86 ERA) will start the series opener for the Mariners. He was forced to leave his previous start in the first inning after being hit by a line drive against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 27. Gonzales, who went 9-1 with a 2.70 ERA after the All-Star break last season, recorded just one out against the Rays while allowing one run on one hit and one walk with one strikeout.

Gonzales is 2-6 with a 4.94 ERA over 11 career appearances (10 starts) against the Astros, including a 2-0 road loss on April 27, 2021, during which he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts over six innings.

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (1-2, 6.00 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros on Monday. He recorded his first quality start of the season in his previous outing, allowing one run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings in a 5-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on April 26.

Odorizzi is 3-6 with a 4.37 ERA over 14 career starts against the Mariners, including a 2-2 mark and 3.91 ERA in five starts against Seattle last season.

After taking a 3-2 loss to the host Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series, the Astros are 10 games into a stretch in which they are playing on 17 consecutive days. The opener against Seattle will mark the start of a seven-game homestand that concludes against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Houston will then have its first off day since April 21 before playing for 16 consecutive days.

That span of 33 games in 34 days necessitated right-hander reliever Cristian Javier joining the rotation last week in Texas and has pushed Houston manager Dusty Baker to seek more from his starters, who in turn have combined to log a respectable 59 innings over the past 10 games.

After throwing a season-high 97 pitches in his previous start last week against the Rangers, Astros left-hander Framber Valdez worked 6 1/3 innings and tossed 101 pitches on Sunday. Valdez was just the latest starter to answer the bell for a team in desperate need of length.

“Framber was great. I mean he was excellent,” Baker said. “I thought we took him as far as we could take him.”

–Field Level Media