During King Felix’s absence from his kingdom known as Safeco Field, the Houston Astros have been taking the American League West by storm. Winning at a rate unmatched by any other entity, they’ve been particularly dominant on the road. The Astros have made a habit of entering their opponents’ domain and taking it for their own.
Recently, however, another legion has garnered influence, winning 13 of their 21 games in June. Irked by the emergence of a contradicting force, the Astros traveled north with intentions to usurp Hernandez’ throne and further manifest their reign over their division; however, Felix is a bold and courageous king willing to take on the best team in baseball and defend his dominion.
The battle began with a bang, when one of Houston’s most notorious baseball destroyers, Jose Altuve, hammered a low changeup over the left field wall. King Felix responded with vengeance, fanning Carlos Correa on a sinker in the dirt to end the inning.
The offensive constituent of ‘Ners Nation struck second. Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia started the second inning with a pair of singles, bringing the fastest man in all of the kingdom, Jarrod Dyson, to the plate. After falling down 0-2, Dyson worked the count full and crushed a line drive to right field wall, plating Seager from second.
Meanwhile, Hernandez fought off a second inning threat from the opposing Astros. After allowing a one-out double, wild pitch, and walk, King Felix found himself in a jam. He deftly diffused the threat by striking out Yuli Gurriel on three pitches and getting Alex Bregman to line out.
The Mariners gained the upper hand in the third inning. A little BABIP magic and a hit by pitch loaded the bases before singles from Mitch Haniger and Valencia scored three runs. With a pair of runners still on base, Mike Zunino stepped to the plate with two outs. The valiant, powerful slugger jumped on a first pitch fastball and launched his 10th dinger of the season.
This powerful swat effectively ended the game. Although the Astros would go onto score a couple more runs, it never felt as though the Mariners’ lead was ever in danger.
The King surrendered two runs over the next three innings in the form of a Marwin Gonzales RBI single and solo shot from Alex Bregman. He finished the night after six innings of three run baseball, in which he struck out six while allowing eight hits and a walk. Although he wasn’t stellar in his return, this was an encouraging outing for Felix. After giving up a first-inning home run to Jose Altuve on his changeup, he found much more success with that pitch later in the game.
Here’s the Altuve homer:
Now here’s Felix striking out Brian McCann:
As the game wore on, Felix kept his changeup out of the strike zone and was able to get batters to chase it.
Aside from some BABIP misfortune and a couple home runs, Hernandez looked healthy, in control, and effective.
Offensively, the onslaught continued in the fourth inning. Ben Gamel, who loves to feast on fastballs, took a waist-high fastball and punished it for an opposite field leadoff home run.
Kyle Seager followed up with a round tripper of his own later in the inning.
(This tweet includes an additional Seager diving catch for your viewing pleasure).
Bringing the thump—and flashing the leather.— Mariners (@Mariners) June 24, 2017
Kyle Seager had himself a game. pic.twitter.com/A4FnilDZmw
At this point in the game, the Astros looked mentally disengaged. This was magnified in the seventh inning when the Mariners scored three runs on a pair of wild pitches. Amazingly, Jarrod Dyson scored from second base on a wild pitch, because apparently that’s what speed do.
The Mariners would pick up their 13th and final run of the game via a throwing error from Altuve in the eighth inning.
Yovanni Gallardo made his first relief appearance of since 2007, throwing three scoreless innings to finish what Felix started. The veteran righty looked impressive out of the ‘pen, reaching 94 MPH on his fastball while allowing just three baserunners.
The Mariners were firing on all cylinders in the King’s return to the mound, striking down the Astros attempt to seize even more control over the American League West. While the Mariners won the battle, however, Seattle has to clash with Houston twice more before getting a day of rest. Fortunately, the Mariners have positioned themselves well for success later in the series. The Astros required three relieves to throw 20 or more pitches each tonight, while the Mariners only used one member of their bullpen. Scorching hot Seattle will look to defend their home tomorrow at 7:10 PM.
Until then, Go M’s.