Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez likely done for season

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Franklin Gutierrez suffered an oblique strain during Sunday’s game and is expected to miss the rest of the year, says the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker.

Gutierrez ends a disastrous season with a .224/.262/.273 line in 322 at-bats.  He missed the first seven weeks with a stomach condition that was eventually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.  After debuting on May 18, he homered in his sixth game back, but then went the next three-plus months without one.  He drove in a total of 19 runs all season.

Regarded by some as the best defensive center fielder in baseball, Gutierrez was an All-Star-caliber performer when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 70 RBI in his first season in Seattle in 2009.  However, his OPS has dipped from .764 then to .666 in 2010 and .535 this year.  If not for the long-term deal he signed, he’d probably be a candidate to be non-tendered this winter.  Instead, he’s guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013.

An offseason spent working out and regaining strength could make Gutierrez a different player in 2012.  The Mariners have no choice but to hope that’s the case.  They do have center field alternatives in Casper Wells, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, but it’s unlikely that any of them will ever be as valuable as Gutierrez was two years ago.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.