Astros 8, Mariners 3
(Seattle, WA) It was a playoff atmosphere at T-Mobile Park for the rubber game of the three-game series between the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. With the winner of Wednesday night’s game taking sole possession of the final American League Wild Card spot, there was a lot of emotion and intensity on full display. A fast start for the Mariners would quickly fade as Houston kept the crowd out of the game. Houston’s bullpen rolled while the Mariners faltered as Seattle dropped the finale 8-3.
Things could not have gotten off to a better start for the M’s. Bryce Miller pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 1st thanks to a pick off of Alex Bregman. Then in the home half the 1st, it took one swing for Seattle to grab the lead. On the second pitch from Framber Valdez, J.P. Crawford jumped on a sinker just in off the plate but he got the barrel to it. A long home run was J.P.’s 18th of the season and quickly gave Seattle a 1-0 lead. The M’s would put runners on the corners after walks to Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez, but they couldn’t cash in. A 1-0 lead was still a good start after an inning for the Mariners
Bryce Miller continued to roll right along until finally hitting a big bump in the top of the 4th. Yordan Alvarez did what he does best to lead off the inning and that is hit the ball very far. His 31st home run of the season traveled 442-feet and tied the game up at 1-1. That began a downward spiral for Miller as things got out of hand. After retiring Kyle Tucker for the first out, Jose Abreu and Michael Brantley both singled to put runners on the corners for Houston. Mauricio Dubón would be the next batter and he turned this game completely upside down. Dubón sent his 10th home run of the season out into the Mariner bullpen. A hanging sweeper was all the Astros needed to take a 4-1 lead.
A quick answer felt like a necessity for the Mariners in the bottom of the 4th. The inning began with back-to-back singles by Cal Raleigh and Sam Haggerty. Jose Caballero hit into a fielder’s choice as Haggerty was thrown out at second for the first out. A J.P. Crawford walk loaded the bases for Julio Rodriguez and all of a sudden the energy was back in the ballpark. While Julio struck out swinging for the second out, Eugenio Suarez gave the Mariners some life with two outs. A base hit into left field was good enough to score Raleigh and Caballero as Crawford stopped at second as the tying run. Teoscar Hernandez hit a hard grounder to Jeremy Peña who made the play to end the inning, but Geno’s big hit brought the Mariners back as they just trailed 4-3.
Things got heated between these two rivals in the bottom of the 6th. With a runner on first and two outs, Hector Neris struck out Julio Rodriguez and then began to walk towards Julio yelling at him. It is not exactly known what Neris said but it got the attention of guys like Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez who both wanted to have a word with Neris who quickly high tailed it into the Houston dugout. Nobody was ejected, but benches clearing when these two teams get together has become the norm.
Both Miller and Valdez settled in and kept things tight as the game turned over to the bullpens. While Houston’s pen was rock solid, the Mariners was about as solid as a wet paper towel. Justin Topa gave up a one out single to Alex Bregman but it turned into so much more. Teoscar Hernandez misplayed the ball for an error that allowed Bregman to get all the way to third. After intentionally walking Yordan Alvarez to try to set up the double play, Kyle Tucker reminded everyone why he is a legit MVP candidate as he sent a double that just went off the tip of Ty France’s glove at first base and down the right field line. Tucker’s 36th double of the season score Bregman to make it 5-3 and had runners on second and third. Jose Abreu then pulled a grounder into left field to move everyone up 90 feet, making it 6-3. Another hit for Michael Brantley went into center field to make it 7-3. A nightmare of a day for the Mariner bullpen all of a sudden had the game completely out of control.
Martin Maldonado’s 15th home run of the season made it 8-3 Houston going into the bottom of the 9th. It would take a miraculous comeback for the Mariners to steal the finale. Unfortunately, this is not Hollywood and there aren’t always happy endings. Seattle would put a couple of runners on in the 9th, but failed to score as their playoff hopes were put on life support with an 8-3 loss.
Seattle’s playoff hopes are now bleak at best with just four games to go in the season. The Mariners (85-73) are very unlikely to win the division as they would need to sweep the four-game series with Texas and have Houston take two out of three with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the Wild Card race, the M’s are two games back of Toronto and 1 1/2 games behind Houston. Taking three out of four is the bare minimum against the Texas Rangers (89-69) in this final series of the regular season. Game one will take place on Thursday at 6:40pm in Seattle. Logan Gilbert (13-7, 3.75 ERA) will need to light a spark under the Mariners as he gets the ball in what could be his final start of the season. Gilbert has had a shaky September but did have a solid start his last time out against Texas when he allowed just two runs over 5 2/3 innings. In that outing, Gilbert was outpitched by Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.25 ERA) who he will face in the opener again. The lefty allowed just five hits over seven scoreless innings with two walks and six strikeouts last weekend against the Mariners.
Well this wasn’t how this ten-game stretch was supposed to go. The Mariners are 1-5 so far as their playoff hopes have quickly faded. This is a team built on pitching. Yes, the offense has been bad. But if the pitching is bad, this team has next to no shot of beating the best teams in baseball. Over the first six games of the tail end of this season, Seattle has gotten two good outings from their starters. One of those was a loss when Logan Gilbert pitched pretty good in Texas. They won the other one as George Kirby threw six scoreless innings against Houston. The pitching has to get better. Also, the bullpen has been just bad this month. There is not one reliever that we can trust to go out and hang a zero right now. Three out of four is a bare minimum in this series and that still might be enough. The light is fading quickly. This was a devastating series for fans. We got bullied by Houston. Do I think Seattle will make the playoffs? No. But, anything is possible. Chaos ball commence.
- Michael Brantley- 4-5, 2B, RBI, R
- Mauricio Dubón- 1-5, HR, 3 RBI, R
- Framber Valdez (ND)- 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO
- Eugenio Suarez- 1-2, 2 RBI, 3 BB
- J.P. Crawford- 1-2, HR, RBI, R, 3 BB
- Bryce Miller (L, 8-7)- 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO