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Preview: Seattle Mariners (3-4) vs. Houston Astros (1-5)

Welcome home.

Otto Greule Jr

Keeping with recent tradition, the Seattle Mariners had a rough go of it in the South Side, narrowly escaping U.S. Cellular Field with a single victory in three tries against the Chicago White Sox. Two of the games went to extra innings, and that combined with a week on the road with no off day and abnormal start times has expedited our descent into the grind that is the baseball regular season.

But the season never seems to be truly under way until the home opener. It just doesn't feel right until we see the hometown nine 25 step onto the field via the red carpet amongst pyrotechnics and a packed house clapping along to 20 minutes of Zombie Nation. The Mariners' get their first home game Monday night.

There's a lot going on in this one. First off, the Mariners are introducing a team that has awoken portions of the fanbase. They're not likely to blitz the rest of the league but they've showed signs of making the jump from pitiful to mediocre. That's enough to fuel optimism in fans who have gone a decade without a particularly interesting team. It's hard to believe that young fans -- including many high schoolers -- have no real recollection of a Mariners playoff berth.

Safeco Field's renovations may be the bigger story to many. The fences have been brought in and a gigantic screen now hangs above center field, among other changes. How will the fences look on the broadcast? How will they play? It would make for a good story if a Mariner hits a wall scraper for the first home run at Neo-Safeco. It would make for a funnier story if the first "just enough" dinger came via the away team.

That away team being the Houston Astros, who will make their first appearance at Safeco Field as members of the American League West. The Astros have begun their season on a tour of their new digs, falling in line as expected by losing five out of six against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. They'll be a welcome sight for the Mariners after a tough series in Chicago.

But the White Sox continue to taunt as Philip Humber takes the hill. Humber famously perfecto'd the Mariners last April before going on to have a horrible season. He ended the year in the White Sox bullpen and is now serving as the Astros' number-three starter. He'll go against another man miscast as a middle of the rotation starter, Joe Saunders, who fell apart in his Mariners debut.

Time: 7:10 pm PDT
Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, WA
Television: ROOT Sports

Astros coverage: Crawfish Boxes