MARINERS STILL QUIET ON OFFENSIVE FRONT IN GAME 2
What happened: Much like Opening Day, the Houston Astros took advantage of good pitching and solo home runs. Lance McCullers Jr took care of the pitching, Brian McCann and Marwin Gonzalez homered and the Astros edged the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on Tuesday in Houston.
The Mariners (0-2) generated seven base hits with a pair of doubles, and managed their first run of the season after 12 2/3 scoreless innings, but again couldn’t convert opportunities, leaving 11 runners stranded and going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
McCullers tossed six innings and allowed the one run on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Three relievers combined for three shutout innings on two hits and now walks with four Ks.
McCann homered to the opposite field into the short-porch Crawford boxes in the fourth and Gonzalez went to the same section in the sixth against Hisashi Iwakuma (L, 0-1), who pitched well save for the two solo shots.
In the fourth, Mitch Haniger led off with a double down the left field line, moved up on a ground out and scored on an infield single by Danny Valencia. Not how they drew it up, but it broke the scoreless streak to start the season at 12 2/3 innings.
In the ninth, Dyson laced a one-out double to right off Astros closer Ken Giles (Sv, 2), but Jean Segura bounced to third and Haniger struck out to end the game.
- In the first, Kyle Seager came in on a soft grounder, handled it cleanly and started a 5-4-3 double play. There’s beauty in simplicity. The next batter, Jose Altuve, hit a routine grounder to short and was called safe but upon review the throw from Jean Segura barely beat him.
- Left-handed hitting McCann reached out to protect the outside corner of the plate and flicked a home run into the Crawford boxes in left field to make it 1-0. Big dude, small park. McCann hit exactly one home run to the opposite field last season.
- Astros outfielder George Springer drew a walk and tried to steal with Alex Bregman at the plate, but Mike Zunino make a terrific throw to nail Springer at the bag. Zunino nabbed Springer again in the sixth on a botched hit-and-run.
- The 12 2/3 scoreless innings streak by the Astros pitchers is a new team record.
- In the fourth, Seager ran up a 3-0 count then the Astros waived him to first, becoming the first Mariner to receive the automatic free pass.
- McCullers ran into trouble in the after two down fifth. Haniger beat out an infield single when Bregman’s throw pulled Gonzalez off the bag, and then he lost the plate and walked Cano on four straight. But Nelson Cruz grounded out harmlessly to end the threat. Cruz went 0 for 4 with two Ks and left four on.
- Valencia started a heck of a 3-6-3 double play in the fifth, but only because the runners were catchers Evan Gattis and McCann, who are both built like offensive linemen. Still, well done.
- Gonzalez’ sixth inning homer came on an 0-1 splitter down in the zone. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and Gonzalez did well to go down and get it.
- Reliever Dan Altavilla looked downright dominant in a 1-2-3 eighth. With one out and a 1-2 count he buzzed Springer’s tower with 96, making Springer hit the dirt, then put a slider off the corner for a swinging K for the second out of the inning. Nasty.
- Haniger looked helpless against Giles’ slider in the ninth, waiving at it twice off the plate. He got rung up after trying to check his swing on the third one.
For two days in a row now, the Mariners were locked up by good but not great pitching. On Tuesday, they had more opportunity but still wasted the advantage. The run they did manage to push across came after a couple of toppers against McCullers following Haniger’s ground-ball double. Still, Iwakuma looked solid after a shaky spring and Altavilla was nasty.
Tweet of the day
Gotta say, after shaky spring, Iwakuma has looked very solid tonight. He's thru 4 with one hit and 53 pitches in 1-1 tie with Astros.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) April 5, 2017
Players of the Game
Hero: Danny Valencia went 2 for 4 with the M’s lone RBI and turned a sweet 3-6-3 double play.
Goat: Nelson Cruz went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and four left on. He’s now 0 for 8 to start the season.
Iwakuma’s final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR. 83 pitches, 53 strikes. Game score of 46.
Mariners at Houston Astros on Wednesday at 5:10 p.m. LHP James Paxton (2016: 6-7, 3.79 ERA, 1.306 WHIP) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (2016 w/PHI: 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.327 WHIP).
What others are saying
Incremental improvement, right? The M’s actually scored a run yesterday, which is good. But they still lost, this time 2-1. … They wasted a great effort by Hisashi Iwakuma, one of the few healthy starters. … Felix Hernandez says he’s healthy, but he always says that. … Drew Smyly received a fill up with plasma but was also moved to the 60-day disabled list. … Jerry DiPoto found another bargain basement pitcher. Is it all part of his master plan? … The Astros feel pretty pumped about their 2-0 start. And well they should.. … So now Taijuan Walker's potential is someone else's problem.
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