Disrespectful First Place Mariners Take On Astros
After a statement 7-1 win over the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros, the Mariners returned to Minute Maid Park looking for a two-game sweep. Lance McCullers (7-3, 3.89 ERA) took the hill for the Astros against Wade Leblanc (1-0, 2.60 ERA).
McCullers has been lights out against the Mariners. In his career posting a 2.96 ERA in nine starts and allowing just a .210 batting average. On the Mariners side, Leblanc has surprisingly been one of the best starters in baseball since joining the starting staff. In seven starts this year Leblanc is spinning a minuscule 1.72 era and had yet to allow more than two runs in any start this year.
Both pitchers put up zeros in the early going and Leblanc was helped out immensely by the M’s defense. In the bottom of the 3rd, Tony Kemp blistered a ball into the gap and sped past 2nd base looking for a triple. Mitch Haniger quickly played the ball into Dee Gordon who gunned down Kemp with a perfect throw from the cutoff position.
Later in the inning with runners on 1st and 2nd, Carlos Correa hit a line drive that Gordon knocked down at 2nd with a diving play, Gordon then turned and pegged a throw home to nail Alex Bregman trying to score from 2nd.
Finally, Nelson Cruz got the Mariners on the board with a solo home run in the top of the 4th. Cruz’s home run was crushed, leaving the yard in the blink of an eye. Nelly is healthy again and AL pitchers should be worried as this home run was very disrespectful.
However, the Astros would get on board in the bottom of the 4th. Evan Gattis sent a home run into the Crawford boxes to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Astros. Tony Kemp followed with a single to right and scored on a George Springer double to put the Astros ahead 3-1.
Cruz’s hot hitting continued in the top of the 6th. With runners on 1st and 2nd, he singled to bring Segura home and make it a 3-2 game.
Denard Span tied the game in the 7th with a line shot home run to left. After Guillermo Heredia walked and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error Jean Segura came to the plate looking for a two-out RBI. Segura smashed a line drive past a diving Jose Altuve and the Mariners led 4-3.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Juan Nicasio came on to work the 7th and gave up four straight hits. Altuve gave the Astros the lead with a single to left on a pitch in the dirt. It looked as if the Astros might put the game out of reach. In all the Astros sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs in the 7th, giving them a 7-4 lead. It was a disastrous inning. Perhaps one that could have been avoided if Scott Servais were willing to use Edwin Diaz or Alex Colome outside of the 8th and 9th innings.
Kyle Seager would get the Mariners a run back with a solo home run. It looked like they might be able to pull off another late-inning comeback. However, Nelson Cruz struck out with men on 1st and 3rd to end the game. The Mariners leave Houston with a 7-5 loss and a split of the two-game series.
Next: Mariners Trade-a-Day: Kirby’s Dream Land
Finally, the Mariners road trip continues as they will make their way to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays. Mike Leake (5-3, 4.71 ERA) will start for the M’s against Ryne Stanek (1-1, 3.65 ERA). First pitch is 4:10 pm PT.