The Seattle Mariners were looking to do some spring cleaning tonight attempting to sweep the Houston Astros, but to no avail; Jose Altuve’s big game against, Mariner starter Hisashi Iwakuma, created most of the mess in tonight’s 7-4 loss at Safeco Field.
The plan went array on the very first batter of the game when Altuve hit a home run to give the away team a very early lead. The dinger was already Altuve’s 3rd leadoff homer of the season. Iwakuma did bounce back for the time being taking care of the next 7 batters he faced. He must have been encouraged when Robinson Cano quickly erased the small lead with another long ball- his 2nd in two days.
In the third Iwakuma lost the lead again, surrendering back-to-back doubles, the later being an Altuve RBI 2-base hit. They were followed by 2 singles, again the later being the run producer, this time from Carlos Correa, before escaping from the inning. Cano tried as best he could to bring the Mariner back with in reaching distance collecting one more RBI to his total with a single, making it a 3-2 ballgame.
The most important note in the fourth was a hit by pitch out of the hand of Iwakuma who hit Carlos Gomez on the right wrist. The injury was painful enough to have the Astros training staff take him out of the game to be examined- X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
The next frame the Astros piled it on against the Japanese pitcher. They managed to draw two walks against him, and add another run to their tally due to an Evan Gattis base hit, not to mention Jose Altuve’s 2nd double of the game and his third knock. Iwakuma did get out of the inning, but that was the end of his disappointing day; his stat-line 5IP, 7H, 5ER, 2BB- not what the Mariners expect out of their shining #2 starter.
Too much in the middle of the plate- Jay Buhner (on Iwakuma)
With the lead 5-2, the M’s tried to get a two out rally going in the 6th against reliever Tony Sipp, who had just come in to replace the Astros front man, Collin McHugh– he had one of his better outings on the young season (5IP, 5H, 2ER, 1BB, 3K). Adam Lind got his rally cap on before belting a no-doubter into the deep right-field bleachers. A hit by pitch from Sipp then a single had the Mariner faithful on their feet hoping this was the turning point, but a pitching change to Will Harris nixed that as he struck out last week’s hero, Scott Clevenger. Cutting the lead to 2 runs meant nothing after Mayckol Guapie took the mound for his first reliving appearance for the Mariners. Nerves and control issues must have gotten the better of him as he gave up 2H, 2ER and 1BB in 0.2IP starting the year with a 54.00 ERA. The 2 runs were brought in by Gattis who now had 3RBI for the night. The score was now 7-3.
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The Mariners had chances in the 8th and 9th to start another rally, putting two men on base in both frames but ended up with nothing to show for it in either chance aside from a meaningless fielders choice ground-out by Cano that brought home Leonys Martin in the final inning. Cano’s 3-RBI night rose his 2-day total to 9, making him the hottest hitter in baseball, as he now leads the American League in both HR (8) and RBI (24). The other bright spot for the Mariners late in the game was that outside of Guapie’s shaky season start, the bullpen combined for 3.1 Innings of perfect ball including a total of 6 combined strikeouts.
Despite losing the game and the sweep in the 7-4 loss, the Mariners will have a day to rest up in their own beds before taking on the defending champion Kansas City Royals who head to town on Friday. Felix Hernandez (1-2, 1.80) will take the hill looking to tie Jamie Moyer for the franchise record for wins as he faces Kris Medlen (1-1, 6.00).