CHICAGO -- Philip Humber pitches for a different team this year, but the man who threw a perfect game against the Mariners last April 21 for the White Sox will be on the hill against them when they open their home season Monday night at Safeco Field.
Humber now is a member of the Houston Astros and will make his second start for his new club in the 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco. After his perfect game, the 30-year-old right-hander eventually lost his starting role with the White Sox and was released following a 5-5 season with a 6.44 ERA.
He lost his Astros debut this week to the Rangers, but gave up just one earned run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The irony of opening their home season against the guy who mowed them down with 27 straight outs last April is not lost on the Mariners.
"This game is weird in crazy ways," said first baseman Justin Smoak. "It just happens to be one of those things."
Five Mariners who were in the starting lineup that day are back -- Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders. Shortstop Brendan Ryan also came off the bench in that one and was the final out.
"This time, hopefully it's a different outcome," said Saunders. "We're swinging the bats real well right now. We're a different offensive club. I think we're a little more feared now when people are pitching against us. Not only did we address the middle-of-the-order need, but we've got guys who took another step forward this year.
"Overall, we're a much more consistent and potent offensive club. I'm hoping it's going to be different. He's a good pitcher and he proved that against us last year, but it should be a different story this year."