The second Alex Bregman golfed an infield single during the game’s first at bat, I knew this was about to be stupid. I was not wrong. Marco Gonzales had struggled during his first three starts of August and was looking to bounce back after some extended rest. Allowing a single off a slow roller is not a fun way to return to action.
It felt like the Mariners sleptwalked through the first few innings of the game. After his leadoff single, Bregman came around to score when Tyler White knocked a ball off the center field wall. Mitch Haniger misplayed the bounce, allowing White to motor into third. One of the rare non-strikes thrown by Gonzales ended up getting by Zunino, allowing White to score on a wild pitch.
Yuli Gurriel scored in the second inning to extend the Astros’ lead to 3-0. He originally reached base when Ben Gamel couldn’t haul in Gurriel’s liner in the gap.
In Gonzales’ defense, it wasn’t like he was making bad pitches early. Only one of the first four Astros’ hits came from pitches in the zone. Nonetheless, the Astros bult ample momentum from their early success on balls in play. That momentum gave way to a five run top of the fourth, during which the Astros rattled off six consecutive hits off of Gonzales.
Although Marco rarely left pitches over the heart of the plate, as the game wore on he started to leave pitches at the belt or higher. Pairing that with the fact he was struggling to generate whiffs did not set him up for a long outing.
Here are a couple pitch locations on hits he surrendered in the fourth.
Nick Rumbelow inhereted a runners on the corners with no outs situation when he replaced Gonzales in the fourth. He escaped only allowing one more run in the inning; however, the Mariners still found themselves trailing 8-0.
The following inning, Nelson Cruz jump started the Mariners’ offense. He hammered a cutter into the upper deck in left field to put the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the fourth.
Martin Maldanado answered with a dinger of his own, though, and brought Houston’s lead back to eight.
Not to be detered, the Mariners offense stepped up and scored another run in the fifth. Dee Gordon barely got in under a tag when he turned a bloop single into a double. He would come around to score later in the inning when Robinson Cano roped a double down the right field line.
Carrying momentum into the next inning, the Mariners showed signs of life in the bottom of the sixth. Again, Nelson Cruz started the rally, this time with a double into right-center field. Denard Span and Ryon Healy singled on back to back pitches to bring Cruz home from second. Gamel was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Mike Zunino. Zunino and Dee Gordon hit consecutive sacrifice flies, plating two more runners for the Mariners. Down 9-5, Mitch Haniger stepped into the box and roped a sinker into the ‘pen, bringing the Mariners within two.
It felt like the Mariners had more left in the tank, but it was too little too late. Cano grounded out to end the sixth inning, and the Mariners never threatened after that.
The Mariners have a much needed day off after winning just two of six at home. They’re still four and a half behind Oakland for the second wild card spot.