The first of our top ten games series from 2022 is the exciting and dramatic first game of the American League Division Series between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros on October 11. Despite a strong performance by the Mariners, the Astros ultimately won by one run.
A Quick Recap of Mariners/Astros ALDS Game One
In the first two innings, the Mariners scored four runs against starting pitcher, Justin Verlander. Julio Rodríguez scored the first run on a combined effort by Ty France and Cal Raleigh in the first inning. In the second, Adam Frazier and Jarred Kelenic got on base and scored on a double by Rodríguez. Raleigh then sent Rodríguez home. Logan Gilbert pitched two scoreless innings. Going into the third inning, the score was SEA 4, HOU 0.
In the top of the third inning, Verlander quickly retired the Mariners’ side. In the bottom of the third, McCormick hit a single and Jose Altuve walked. Yordan Alvarez then hit a two-RBI double to the wall. At the end of the third inning, the score was SEA 4, HOU 2.
In the fourth inning, JP Crawford hit a home run, then Rodríguez hit a triple. France got a double by hitting the ball to the wall, allowing Rodríguez to score. Eugenio Suarez hit a double but thanks to Alvarez, France was out at home. In the bottom of the inning, Jeremy Peña hit a home run and so at the end of the fourth, the score was SEA 6, HOU 3.
After four innings, the Astros put in some of their strong relief pitchers. Bryan Abreu came in and pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the 5th. Gilbert also has an easy inning. The Astros replaced Abreu with Cristian Javier midway through the top of the sixth, The Mariners replaced Gilbert with Matt Brash. Entering the seventh inning, the score was still SEA 6, HOU 3.
Javier also pitched in the seventh inning. Eugenio Suarez hit a home run, making it a 7-3 game. Diego Castillo allowed no scoring from Houston.
In the eighth, Hunter Brown pitched to the Mariners. Kelenic got a base hit but was caught trying to steal second base. Andrés Muñoz came in to pitch to the Astros. Alvarez hit a single and Alex Bregman hit a two-run home run. The score was SEA 7, HOU 5.
The Mariners did not score against Rafael Montero in the top of the ninth. Paul Sewald walked Hensley, struck out Altuve, and then Peña hit a single to center. Robbie Ray came in to pitch to Alvarez for the last out, but Alvarez was ready to knock the ball out of the park, getting a 3-RBI home run. Houston won 8-7.
A Few Reflections
Yordan Alvarez played remarkably well in this game. He personally contributed to six out of Houston’s eight runs either by RBI or because he had made it on base when Bregman hit a homerun. His strong arm also prevented Ty France from scoring a run for the Mariners. Without Alvarez, the score might have been Mariners 8, Astros 2. In the postseason, with 52 appearances, he scored 9 runs, hit 3 home runs, and had an RBI total of 14.
However, this was a tough loss for the Mariners and their fans with a victory seemingly one out away and then gone. Everyone from Seattle was disappointed and, of course, the Houston players and fans were ecstatic. The loss did not diminish the Mariners’ excellent batting and fielding throughout the game.
Although many Mariners fans recovered from their disappointment, a minority appeared to lose perspective as well as their memory of our players' past successes. On social media, this small group took out their frustrations on those who participated in the ninth inning: Scott Servais, Paul Sewald, and Robbie Ray.
Fans who have participated in sports at any level know how much individual responsibility players take for their contributions, whether that responsibility is merited or not. The nasty comments about the players and Servais shocked me as a Mariners fan. While the loss in the ninth inning was sensational, all games are a team effort. In my calculations, the ninth-inning homerun represented less than half of Alvarez’s contribution to the loss.
If fans want to encourage a team's players to greatness, I suggest that a lack of support and negativity is not the way. I wish I had seen as many compliments for our pitchers, batters, and fielders' accomplishments. The Mariners were remarkable even without the win.
The Astros were cocky about their performance against the Mariners after losing each ALDS game by only one run, but 2023 is a new season. I think the Mariners will surprise them and I look forward to that.