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Mariners Log: M’s can’t solve McCullers, late rally falls short

UPDATED: Sat., June 24, 2017, 11:04 p.m.

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws to the Seattle Mariners during the first inning on June 24, 2017, in Seattle. (Jason Redmond / Associated Press)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws to the Seattle Mariners during the first inning on June 24, 2017, in Seattle. (Jason Redmond / Associated Press)

MCCULLERS STRONG IN RETURN FROM DL TO DOMINATE M’S

What happened: Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr was strong over five-plus innings in his return from the disabled list and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Saturday night at Safeco Field.

The M’s six-game win streak was snapped.

In his first start off the disabled list with back spasms, McCullers didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and left after allowing a pair of hits in the sixth. All told, he went five-plus innings and allowed one runs on four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.

Holding slim 2-1 margin entering the seventh, the Astros loaded the bases with two outs and Steve Cishek almost got out of the situation, but Mitch Haniger’s attempt at a spectacular diving catch came up empty when the ball popped out of his glove upon impact, allowing the bases to clear.

The M’s rallied in the ninth against Houston closed Ken Giles and Mike Zunino’s pinch-hit bases-loaded walk drew the M’s within three, but Giles struck out Carlos Ruiz to end it.

Mariners starter Sam Gaviglio allowed two runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Ben Gamel’s hitting streak ended at 14.

Line Outs

  • Gaviglio started off a little shaky, needing 25 pitches, throwing only 12 strikes, to mush through a scoreless first inning. In the bottom half, Josh Reddick in left field made an tremendous full-on diving catch toward the infield to rob Jean Segura of a leadoff hit.
  • The M’s starter needed a double play to get out of the second unscathed, but he ran out of luck in the third. George Springer led off with a single to right, then Reddick drilled a no-doubt shot to center for his eighth homer of the season. Gaviglio didn’t even turn to watch.
  • McCullers cruised in his first start off the DL until running into a little trouble in the fifth. Nelson Cruz led off with an infield single – the M’s first of the night – and Kyle Seager ripped a double off the wall in center.
  • After Mitch Haniger struck out, Jarrod Dyson bounced one to second but the runners were moving on contact and Jose Altuve threw home and after some dancing, catcher Brian McCann tagged Cruz out back near third base. Taylor Motter struck out to end the inning.
  • The M’s finally chased McCullers in the sixth after Carlos Ruiz led off with a double and Jean Segura singled off shortstop Carlos Correia’s glove. Will Harris relieved and struck out Ben Gamel, but Robinson Cano got one past diving first baseman Yuri Gurriel and Ruiz scored. Cruz then bounced into a double play to end the inning.
  • The Astros loaded the bases in the seventh. With two outs against Steve Cishek, Brain McCann lashed one down the line that Haniger laid out for and had in his glove, but the impact upon landing jarred the ball loose and it trickled away from Haniger to the side wall, allowing the bases to clear and made it 5-1.
  • Reddick made another incredible diving catch in the seventh, robbing Motter of a hit with a runner on and two outs, to quash a potential rally.
  • The M’s loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth and Mike Zunino pinch-hit for Motter. Zunino drew a walk to force in a run, but Ken Giles struck out Ruiz to preserve Houston’s win.

The Takeaway

The streak was going to end at some point. The difference was Haniger’s non-catch. The old axiom about it being a game of inches was never more true.

Tweet of the Day

Players of the Game

Hero: Dan Altavilla. Surprisingly, he gave the M’s two scoreless innings and allowed them to be in a position to rally in the ninth.

Goat: Steve Cishek. Two hits and a walk in 2/3 innings.

Next Game

Houston Astros (51-25) vs. Seattle Mariners (39-38) on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. at Safeco Field. Ariel Miranda (6-3, 4.04) hosts Frances Martes (2-0, 5.02).

What others are saying (and writing)

We are finally beginning to see the Mariner team envisioned at the beginning of spring training. The Times’ Larry Stone believes it is good enough to compete with baseball’s best. … The injuries have allowed a couple of youngsters to step up, including Sam Gaviglio. He was good last night in the 5-2 defeat, but the bullpen, which will now include Yovani Gallardo, couldn’t keep the Astros at bay. … Drew Smyly is throwing against hitters. Which means games should not be all that far away. … Turn back the clock night seemed destined for a defeat, right? … Houston has had some pitching injuries as well. And other ones.

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