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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Robbie Ray struggles against Astros again as they win fifth straight vs. Mariners

July 29, 2022 Updated Fri., July 29, 2022 at 9:43 p.m.

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

HOUSTON – Maybe it’s presumptive to think of it as a potential problem since planning for postseason pitching hasn’t really been a consideration since Lou Piniella was still wearing a uniform and gas was around $1.65 a gallon.

And the idea of worrying about a potential matchup with the Houston Astros in the divisional or championship rounds of the playoffs seems a bit irrational considering the Mariners haven’t been there since 2001.

It’s also not an impossibility if the Mariners make the postseason and win their three-game wild-card series. Their starting pitching is that good … well, sometimes.

But this much is certain in 2022 and was further verified again Friday night in yet another Mariners loss at Minute Maid Park: Robbie Ray has an Astros problem.

Facing Houston for the second straight start, Ray struggled again, failing to make it out of the third inning, giving up four runs, which is less than ideal when your teammates are dealing with a night against Justin Verlander. The pitchers that followed didn’t fare much better either.

The outcome was familiar: An 11-1 pasting.

It was the Mariners’ fifth straight loss to the Astros.

Fortunately for Ray, he won’t have to face them again in the regular season.

But what happens if he faces them in the postseason?

Well, that’s a conversation for another day. Perhaps Seattle’s stunning acquisition of Reds right-hander Luis Castillo, which was finalized during the game, will change the potential matchups.

It was a bad sign when it took Ray 26 pitches to work through the first inning scoreless after a two-out walk of Yordan Alvarez. That was Ray’s best inning.

In the second inning, Aledmys Diaz walloped a 3-1 sinker onto the train tracks for a solo homer and a 1-0 lead.

Ray’s outing fell apart in the third inning he wouldn’t finish. The results were as follows:

• Leadoff walk to Jose Altuve

• Single from Yuli Gurriel

• Single from Alvarez to score Altuve

• Two-run double to left-center from Alex Bregman

• Strikeout looking of Kyle Tucker

• Walked Jeremy Pena

• Line out from Diaz

• Walked Mauricio Dubon

With no sign of it getting better, manager Scott Servais pulled Ray and went to his bullpen. Right-hander Penn Murfee ended the misery, getting Martin Maldonado to ground out to end the inning.

But the damage was done. And it would only get worse.

The Astros scored a run off Murfee and four off Tommy Milone and another off Ryan Borucki. Servais turned to backup catcher Luis Torrens to finish the game.

Meanwhile, Verlander tossed 7⅔ innings, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts to improve to 14-3.

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