Astros' starting pitchers have continued to have solid success in the second half of the season - with that success usually being undone by the bullpen. The shaky Astros' relievers still have their moments, but now it is the Houston offense that has let down it's starting pitching staff.
Saturday's starter Dallas Keuchel allowed three hits and two walks in the first inning leading to three Seattle runs. The first run came home when shortstop Marwin Gonzalez got to a ground ball up the middle, but spun and threw it past Jake Elmore at second base. Unfortunately, for Keuchel, the play was ruled a hit and resulted in an earned run, despite coming on a play that could've been made by many shortstops.
Keuchel then garnered a mound visit after walking back-to-back batters to score the second of the three runs. An RBI ground out made it 3-0, but from there on, Keuchel was impressive.
The Astros lefty allowed only two more runners over his next six innings of work, while striking out seven Seattle hitters. The final line for Keuchel of seven innings, four hits (all singles) three earned runs and eight strikeouts is solid, but does not tell the story of how good he was for the vast majority of the evening. It was the third time in Keuchel's last four starts that he has gone at least seven innings.
The Astros offense has hit a pretty rough patch over the team's skid. Houston has scored only eight runs over the team's five-game losing streak. The Astros had no problem getting the men on base tonight, but they could not get the hit to drive runners in. Every starter except catcher Cody Clark reached base for Houston, but the team finished a rough 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Astros left nine on base overall.
Houston scored their lone run in the fourth when the Astros put on a double steal with Brandon Barnes scoring while Mariners' second baseman Nick Franklin dropped the throw that would've had Jake Elmore going to second.
As for the other innings, the Astros had two first and second opportunities in the second inning with a double play sandwiched in between. Houston also put runners on first and second in the sixth and seventh innings without scoring.
The Astros will try to avoid the four-game sweep on Sunday behind Brett Oberholtzer, but the scuffling Astros' offense will have to deal with Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma.