Coming off his first Major League All-Star experience, Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is feeling refreshed and revitalized.
While Iwakuma didn't pitch in the Midsummer Classic because he started the Sunday before the break, he takes the mound Saturday against the Astros in Houston on an extra day of rest.
"I think it's healthy," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I think it's a good thing for him. He's been very consistent for us, but to give him an extra day is a positive thing."
Getting a much needed win on Sunday against the Angels, the right-hander tossed seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He also struck out seven and walked one for his first victory in six starts.
Even with that recent rough patch, Iwakuma still leads the American League with a 0.94 WHIP and is sixth in the AL with a 3.02 ERA.
Meanwhile, veteran left-hander Erik Bedard (3-6, 4.61 ERA) will look to get the Astros out of their current funk with a solid start. After a 10-7 loss on Friday, the Astros are just 3-10 in July. Bedard is also having a rough month, going 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA.
For Houston manager Bo Porter, the second half of the season is all about minimizing mistakes.
"I don't believe in little things because when anything causes you to lose a game, everybody's going to say, 'Wow, that was the biggest play of the game.'" he said. "It may be looked upon [as small] outside the course of the game, but every aspect is huge.
"I really want us to cut down on our walks from a pitching standpoint, cut down on errors and what I call 'crucial strikeouts,' which is when the situation calls for the balls to be put in play. You can't strike out there. We showed signs last week, and hopefully they'll continue on this side of the break."
Mariners: Ramirez to start Tuesday
• Wedge said on Friday that right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will be recalled from Class A Everett to start on Tuesday against the Indians at Safeco Field.
While the move hasn't been made official, Ramirez made one start with Seattle on July 11, then was optioned to Everett so he could get a start during the All-Star break.
The 23-year-old Nicaraguan pitched 5 1/3 innings for Everett in Wednesday's 7-6 victory over Vancouver, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts in a no-decision.
• Veteran right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, released by the Mariners earlier this month, has accepted a Minor League contract from his former Tigers team and will continue his comeback attempt with Triple-A Toledo.
Astros: Cosart to start Tuesday
• After tossing eight shutout innings against the Rays last week in his first career start, Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart will make his second career start on Tuesday against the A's.
"We just want him to continue to pitch," Porter said. "We all know the talent he has. It's a big arm. It's a guy who has tremendous stuff. I said this even after the last start. People wanted to compare Jarred Cosart to different people.
"I said, 'Let's allow Jarred Cosart to be Jarred Cosart.' Over time he'll be able to answer all of those questions. But there will be no undue pressure placed on him. He's going to be one of five guys that will get the ball once every five days."
• Two weeks after being optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Houston reliever Hector Ambriz was called up on Friday, swapping roster spots again with left-hander Brett Oberholtzer.
• The Mariners have hit 119 home runs this season, which is second in the Majors behind only the Orioles' 133. Seattle totaled 149 home runs in 2012 and had 83 after the first 95 games.