Mariners 6, Astros 2
(Seattle, WA) Tuesday night was a playoff game for the Seattle Mariners. A loss to the Houston Astros would be their fifth consecutive loss and put them 2 1/2 games behind Houston with just five games to go. A win would have Seattle just half of a game out of the playoffs and a chance to win the series and grab hold of a playoff spot going into the final series of the season. Facing practically elimination, George Kirby stepped on the mound and again in a big situation against the Houston Astros, the young righty came up big. Throwing six shutout innings, Kirby allowed the offense to do their thing and the bats would get the job done as the Mariners knocked off the Astros 6-2.
A scoreless first couple innings felt like a win for the Mariners, especially with George Kirby getting out of a bases loaded jam in the 1st. Falling behind early would have taken the crowd right out of it and kept Houston’s momentum from the night before rolling along. Scoreless into the bottom of the 3rd, Seattle finally seized control. Back-to-back singles from Mike Ford and Ty France began the inning as Seattle had a couple of baserunners with nobody out. Josh Rojas stepped to the plate and roped one to deep right field. Kyle Tucker would showcase his gold glove defense with a nice leaping catch. Ford tagged up to go to third and Jose Altuve thought he could get Ford on the relay. The throw from Altuve to third sailed well high and out of play. That gave Mike Ford home and moved Ty France to third as Seattle took a 1-0 lead on the error. Following a J.P. Crawford walk, Julio Rodriguez drove in another run with a sacrifice fly to center to score France and make it 2-0 Mariners.
Kirby continued to roll as the offense tried to get him some run support. They would get some breathing room in the bottom of the 5th. Josh Rojas singled and stole second for his 12th stolen base of the season, but with two outs it wasn’t exactly a strong scoring opportunity. Julio Rodriguez took another walk to put runners on first and second as Houston brought in former Mariner, Rafael Montero in relief of Cristian Javier. Montero didn’t exactly impress in his time in Seattle and he was very unimpressive in this outing. Cal Raleigh welcomed him with a single to right that would score Josh Rojas easily. The throw from Kyle Tucker in right went into third but again went out of play. Julio scored on the error as Raleigh moved to third with the lead doubled at 4-0. Teoscar Hernandez made the error hurt Houston even more with a base hit into left. With Raleigh on third, he was able to score easily as Seattle started to break things open a bit with a 5-0 lead.
The previous month has not been the best time for George Kirby. He righted the wrongs on Tuesday night. After loading the bases in the top of the 1st, Kirby became dominant. The young righty faced the minimum in the 2nd-5th innings before giving up a single to Jose Altuve to begin the 6th. A deep fly ball by Alex Bregman to right was nothing Teoscar Hernandez couldn’t handle as he crashed into the wall, making the catch for the first out. Kirby then struck out Yordan Alvarez for the second out. Then came something I have never seen before in a baseball game. As George Kirby asked for a new baseball, a ball came flying in from the stands and hit Kirby in the midsection. Luckily, Kirby was alright and stayed in the game, but he seemed a bit rattled as he gave up an infield single to Kyle Tucker to put runners at first and second. He would then settle down and got Jose Abreu to ground out to Ty France to end the inning. In a big time game, George Kirby had a big time performance with six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and just one walk with four strikeouts.
As the bullpen took over in the top of the 7th, things began to get a little too interesting. Justin Topa really struggled out of the pen as he hit Yainer Diaz before giving up two straight singles to Chas McCormick and Jeremy Peña. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Scott Servais brought in Matt Brash out of the bullpen to face pinch hitter Jon Singleton. Singleton would hit a fairly deep fly ball to right field where Teoscar Hernandez made the catch. Diaz tagged up and scored to get Houston on the board at 5-1, but McCormick and Peña remained at second and first. Brash then landed a beautiful 2-2 slider on the inside corner to strikeout Jose Altuve looking for out number two. Alex Bregman couldn’t solve Brash either as he grounded out to Eugenio Suarez to end the inning. Not only did Brash get out of a bases loaded jam with nobody out only allowing one run, but he pitched the top of the 8th as well. In the 8th, Brash only allowed a one out double to Kyle Tucker but hung up another zero in his second inning of work. The brilliant outing for Brash kept the Mariner lead at 5-1.
We couldn’t have a big win like this without having a trident sighting. It was the perfect guy to hit one as well. With nobody on and two outs in the bottom of the 8th, Ty France ended his long home run drought with a solo shot to center. It was France’s 11th home run of the season and his first since August 22nd in Chicago. Seattle was now three outs away from a massive win as they led 6-1.
Andrés Muñoz looked to get the final three outs but he was not at the top of his game in this appearance. He would hit Chas McCormick in the side to leadoff the inning. McCormick had to leave the game, but luckily it sounds like he is OK which is good news. Jeremy Peña then singled to put runners on first and second with still nobody out. Mauricio Dubón would hit a chopper to J.P. Crawford who would go to second to cutdown Peña at second for the first out. Jose Altuve then smacked one the other way into right field for an RBI single. With the Mariner lead down to 6-2, Houston had momentum with the scary part of the order coming to the plate. Alex Bregman hit a chopper to third and Eugenio Suarez raced to third for the second out before making a jump throw to first for the double play. The play at first was overturned after a Houston challenge, so runners were on first and second with two outs and Yordan Alvarez coming to the plate. A nightmare for Mariner fans was taken care of this time around. A line drive to center was hauled in by Julio for the final out. A collective sigh of relief could be heard all throughout the Pacific Northwest as the Mariners hung on for a 6-2 win.
Everything came up Mariners on Tuesday as both the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers lost their games as well. That keeps the AL West within reach still for the Mariners as they trail Texas by three games. It is much more likely that the Mariners snag a Wild Card but they are still on the outside looking in there as well. Seattle (85-72) trails Toronto for the second Wild Card by two games but just half of a game separates them and the Houston Astros (86-72) for the final AL playoff spot. The rubber game of the three-game series between Seattle and Houston is the biggest game of the year for both sides but the pitchers are extremely different. For Seattle, it will be Texas native Bryce Miller (8-6, 4.17 ERA) taking the ball in the finale. While Miller has struggled against the Rangers this season, he has been fantastic against the other Texas team in the Astros. In two previous starts against Houston, Miller has pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He will have to be on his game as he will take on Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.39 ERA) for Houston. Valdez has also face the Mariners twice this season with mixed results. In total, Framber has pitched 11 innings against Seattle and allowed eight runs on 15 hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. First pitch is scheduled for Wednesday night at 6:40pm
- Jose Altuve- 3-5, RBI
- Jeremy Peña- 3-4
- Cristian Javier (L, 9-5)- 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO
- George Kirby (W, 12-10)- 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
- Ty France- 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R
- Cal Raleigh- 2-3, RBI, R, BB