The good news is the Mariners only have three more games against the Astros this year (
until October). The bad news is they lost this one.
I know I usually end these recaps with a “words of wisdom” section about how “baseball seasons are long, individual losses don’t matter that much.” But today I want to front load that.
The Mariners, bless their hearts, are sitting in the second of three Wild Card slots, and the two teams behind the lost tonight as well. Would a win have been good to build up a gap? Sure. Absolutely. But in the context of the whole season, losing tonight is fine. We knew this road trip would be tough. Playing seven games against the Astros and Yankees sucks. But after that the Mariners have the best chance of anyone to power through to the end. So let’s just keep that in mind as we talk about tonight’s game.
In my last recap, Altuve hit a home run on the first pitch. Thankfully, he didn’t do that again tonight. We didn’t escape the first inning, though as a double by Yordan Alvarez set up Alex Bregman for a home run just over the Crawford boxes to give the Astros an early lead.
Logan Gilbert didn’t really have his best stuff on the mound tonight. He only had one clean inning in his 6 innings of work, and he kept spiking his changeup and slider, not giving Cal any help. But at the end of the day, that home run to Bregman was the only time he gave up a hit that mattered. Not an easy feat to keep the Astros to just two runs, especially since he had to deal with a fair amount of traffic. He was also pretty fired up about getting this strikeout at the end of his outing.
Coming on in relief in the seventh was Penn Murfee, who leaned on his two-seamer a little more than usual today, getting a couple of soft flyball outs with in, with a tasty little K of Maldonado mixed in. Andres was less good, but we’ll come back to that later.
Mariners bats (sometimes) existed. J.P. got two hits from balls he pushed down the third base line, Cal hit a nice little double, and even Adam Frazier got in on it with a nice little line drive single, the kind of hit he was signed for.
Of more interest though were the non-hits. Here’s the Mariner’s batted ball spray chart, with a few highlighted.
As we learned from Bregman in the first, it’s really easy to get a home run in Houston if you just hit it to left field. Or you can at least, as Ty did in the sixth, bounce it off the scoreboard at the base of the boxes. You’d think that this park was made for guys like Julio and Eugenio, right handed hitters who hit fly balls. But no, a couple of 400 foot flyouts to center for them. Maybe they’re just too good at squaring up the ball for this park. And then you have Adam Frazier, leaning on a fastball and sending it as far as he possibly can, only to have Kyle Tucker, looking bored out of his mind as he takes away Adam’s homer.
Kyle Tucker with the most causal home run robbery of all time— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) July 29, 2022
Just a few more inches, on both the Ty single and the Adam fly out, and the Mariners and Astros could still be playing right now. That’s just how baseball goes, I guess.
So where did those two Mariner runs come from? Well they both came in the third inning. Frazier led things off with that aforementioned single, and a walk to Dylan Moore brought Julio to the plate with two on and none out. Jose Urquidy decided not to do what Jon Gray did yesterday though, and just nibbled at the outside corner, walking Julio on five pitches.
Ty strolled up with the bases loaded and none out, and hit that sac fly on the spray chart above that was almost trouble for center fielder Jake Meyers. Julio and DMo both moved up on the play, so when Santana hit a ground ball straight to Gurriel there was no chance at a double play, which let another run score. Eugenio grounded out, ending the inning, and the Good Offense for the day.
And what about the other two runs for Houston? Well.
Andrés Muñoz came in for the 8th, and just had no command. He leaned on his fastball a tad bit more than he usually does, and just couldn’t spot it. He hit the leadoff batter, grazing Gurriel on his hand. Yuli then stole second with Cal bobbling the transfer, letting him get in without a throw.
That came back to haunt the M’s as Bregman, menace that he is, hit a fly ball to that Weird Zone just to the right of the Crawford boxes to score Gurriel. Maybe if Yuli was still at first he might not have been able to score, since he would have had to wait and see if the ball would actually drop. It didn’t matter anyway, since Kyle Tucker’s groundout moved Bregman to third.
Which set him up to score on yet another missed pitch by Muñoz. It got away from Cal, who really suffered behind the plate, and Bregman scored, colliding with Andrés on the play, and hurting his leg; no word on if it’s anything major. Muñoz pitched the rest of the inning, so he seems ok. But either way, two runs scored, and the Mariners only had one inning to make up for it. As is customary for these recent games against the Astros, they brought the tying run to the plate late in the game, but couldn’t push anything across.
So, the Mariners lost. Whatever. Their big fight this season isn’t with the Astros. Sorry for the Jay Buhner stans reading this, but I don’t think that we’re coming for the division this year. The Wild Card is good, though. I think we could all stand for a little more Wild in our lives. Just not wild pitches, please.