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Musgrove still searching since return from DL

Astros starter tagged for 9 runs in loss to Mariners
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

SEATTLE -- In the moments that followed the Astros' 13-3 loss to the Mariners on Friday night, manager A.J. Hinch wasn't in the mood to discuss whether starting pitcher Joe Musgrove would remain in the rotation following his rough outing.

Musgrove was rocked for nine runs, including three homers, and 12 hits and saw his season ERA balloon to 6.01, after pitching just 3 2/3 innings. In three starts since coming off the disabled list, Musgrove is 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA, allowing 16 runs and 23 hits in 14 innings.

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SEATTLE -- In the moments that followed the Astros' 13-3 loss to the Mariners on Friday night, manager A.J. Hinch wasn't in the mood to discuss whether starting pitcher Joe Musgrove would remain in the rotation following his rough outing.

Musgrove was rocked for nine runs, including three homers, and 12 hits and saw his season ERA balloon to 6.01, after pitching just 3 2/3 innings. In three starts since coming off the disabled list, Musgrove is 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA, allowing 16 runs and 23 hits in 14 innings.

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"We'll see," Hinch said when asked if Musgrove would remain in the rotation. "It's probably not a great topic at the very end of this game."

The Mariners pounced on Musgrove for six runs in the third inning, and he was pulled after giving up a pair of homers in the fourth that put Seattle ahead, 9-1.

"Everything was a little bit up and little bit middle, and he couldn't beat them inside the strike zone," Hinch said. "He got a few chases here and there, but sometimes you've got to beat them in the strike zone."

Musgrove missed two starts on the disabled list with right shoulder discomfort before coming off to start June 12 against Texas. He threw seven scoreless innings to beat Baltimore on May 26, which was his final start before going on the DL. He hasn't looked like the same pitcher since coming back off the DL, but he insists he's healthy.

"They were all over anything," Musgrove said. "I had a lot of swing and misses tonight, but I feel every time I made a good two-strike, put-away pitch, they laid off it like they knew it was coming. I made too many mistakes in the zone and let them get back into even counts. I didn't want to walk them, so I challenged them and they put the ball in play every time."

The Astros are getting starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. off the disabled list to start Saturday, with Charlie Morton (right lat strain) on Minor League rehab and getting closer to being activated. Ace Dallas Keuchel (neck discomfort) is throwing off flat ground and still at least a week away, while Collin McHugh (posterior impingement in right elbow) is rehabbing in Florida.

Mike Fiers has stepped up and done a nice job in the rotation in June, and Brad Peacock, David Paulino and Francis Martes have also picked up the slack with so many injured starters. With McCullers set to return, it could be a struggling Musgrove who's the odd man out.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Joe Musgrove