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Mariners 3, Astros 1: Seventh inning meltdown dooms Astros

If you've been following along with this season, you just might have felt a creeping sense of déjà vu this night.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

While the particulars might have been unique (and more on a particular particular in a moment), the script was largely the same. That seventh inning was simply a new wrinkle thrown into the middle of the same tired, cruel joke we've heard so often this year.

So stop me if you've heard this one before; Astros starter pitches well, offense can't do a thing, bullpen can't hold on late.

Those particulars I mentioned; Jarred Cosart, while far from perfect, in both the baseball sense and the real world one, was very strong, and deserved better than the three earned runs in less than seven innings he'll be tagged with. Some walks were there, but so too some timely strikeouts.

Tony Sipp, who previously had been baseball-perfect, picked a fine time to show his humanity. In truth, and this perhaps is the most frustrating of all of this game's particulars, is that he pitched well enough to be out of the inning. There were no liners into the outfields, bases-loaded walks or anything of the sort. He didn't hang a pitch that the hitter crushed. He got his grounder, right at the fielder, and...froze. For a single click of the clock, he simply turned into a spectator before remembering that his job was not yet finished.

By that time, naturally, it was too late. This is the game of inches, after all. Of millimeters and fractions of seconds, at times. The runner beat him to first by roughly two inches, a pair of runners scored (though you had to wait ten minutes to find that out if you were watching the Astros' TV broadcast), and that was it. And we knew that was it, because we know our offense.

Our "offense," which might be the more apt way to state it, was pathetic, in no uncertain terms. Jose Altuve picked up a pair of hits, one a homer on the first pitch of the game that ended up being the only thing that kept us from being shut out utterly. Outside of him, the Astros lineup managed six total base runners the rest of the game. The few weeks of decent respectability seem to have vanished, and the old helpless offense as returned. The Astros are averaging 2.5 runs per game on this road trip.