I still can’t get over the strikeout ability of this Astros rotation. The group entered today so severely dominating opposing hitters--they’re currently leading of all baseball with a strikeout rate of 11.8 K/0--that Charlie Morton’s eight strikeouts in seven innings today actually decreased that number.
In all honesty, I may have a slightly skewed perception of today’s game, as I am content with having taken one game of this series on account of how insane Houston’s rotation is, and that’s to say nothing of their offense.
That being said, a strong start from Marco Gonzales was about all I was after in this one, and while any indication that our offense can generate some firepower against the Astros’ arsenal of tough right-handers would have been nice, I’ll settle for this performance from our out-of-options southpaw.
A quick glance at the box score can be a bit misleading when assessing the effort the M’s got out of their starter today, as he failed to make it through five innings for the third consecutive time out, but for the first time, this one probably wasn’t on him. Marco was absolutely lights out through the game’s first three innings, needing just 54 pitches to rack up seven punchouts. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth after Jose Altuve was given a free pass to first, but he responded nicely.
After that leadoff walk to Jose Altuve that featured some questionable calls by home plate umpire Tripp Gibson III and a single by Carlos Correa, Marco managed to wiggle off the hook thanks to inducing a triple play on account of a mental lapse by Evan Gattis, who apparently forgot how many outs there were (or severely overestimated his sneakiness).
After needing just 64 pitches to work four shutout innings, the defense behind Marco fell apart in the fifth, and despite the game’s official scorer only crediting one error in the inning, they easily could have credited the M’s with two. After Kyle Seager came up empty on an attempted backhanded stop on a ball up the line--which likely would have been ruled a double had it not gone directly under Seager’s glove--Marwin Gonzalez roped a line drive single to left. On the following play, Josh Reddick dropped a ball behind second base that Jean Segura attempted to track down and make an over-the-shoulder catch, but to no avail. As three Mariner defenders converged on the bloop single, Dee Gordon likely should have been the one to attempt at the ball, especially considering he was likely the only one who would have had a real chance to catch Alex Bregman tagging from third considering a) his momentum was already headed towards the plate and b) he didn’t have his back facing home plate like the person who actually did try and catch it. Regardless, Marco then surrendered a single to Max Stassi and struck Jake Marisnick out swinging before being yanked for Dan Altavilla after using 79 pitches to throw 4.2 innings of ball three runs, but no earned runs.
The Astros bats really came alive once the Mariners’ starter had been chased as they got to Altavilla (one), Marc Rzepczynski (one), and Wade LeBlanc (four) to add on six more runs.
Houston mercifully pulled Morton after seven dominant innings at just 86 pitches in favor of Tony Sipp, who the M’s managed to muster two runs off of thanks to a Guillermo Heredia pinch hit walk and doubles by David Freitas and Jean Segura.
The Mariners hit the road tonight as they open a 10 game road trip in Texas with Felix taking on converted-reliever Mike Minor.