On June 12, Jordan Lyles fired seven innings of scoreless baseball with ten strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners. Sunday afternoon against the same time was basically the exact opposite.
Lyles finished with a line of four innings, eight hits, ten runs, nine earned, two walks, two hit batters and only three strikeouts. The 23-year old righty's good start to this season is now old news as his ERA has risen from 3.22 to 4.78 within his last five starts. Even more concerning was seeing some older problems of Lyles reoccurring as he struggled mightily when faced with some trouble.
He ran into that quickly in the second inning when Astros' shortstop Jake Elmore booted a double play ball, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Lyles did strike out the next batter, Justin Smoak, but five batters later it was 7-0, Seattle.
It didn't help Lyles that Elmore may not be cut out to be a major league shortstop. His limited range also helped the Mariners get their first run when he couldn't get an out on a playable ground ball up the middle. But Lyles made it much, much worse. He hit the next batter to make it 2-0, then surrendered a RBI single, and Nick Franklin launched his first career grand slam off Lyles to create the seven-run deficit for the Astros.
The decision to let Lyles work through it was a good one by Bo Porter, but he finally had seen enough when his starter allowed double, single, hit batter and single to start the fifth inning. Ironically, the guy Lyles apparently got into a scuffle with, Lucas Harrell, came on in relief. Harrell isn't exactly making a good case to be put back into the starting rotation as he allowed five hits and three walks that led to two more Seattle runs in his 3.2 innings.
Seattle's Felix Hernandez cruised through six scoreless innings and it was 11-0 before the Astros got on the board with a Jose Altuve RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. Brandon Barnes added a RBI single in the ninth inning, followed by a Matt Dominguez sacrifice fly to cut the Mariners' lead to nine at 12-3. Jason Castro's strikeout plus Henry Blanco's throwing error down the first base line allowed two more to score - just to make sure that there was at least some weirdness in this game in what was a very odd series.
Seattle gets the sweep and has won six in a row. Maybe they'll get hot and make some noise in the AL after using the Houston punching bag (see Tampa Bay Rays).
The Astros have now lost 18 of their last 23 and have lost 36 of their last 42 games that have come in the month of July.