Scott Kazmir did not look like himself in his start tonight, lasting just four and a third innings while throwing 98 pitches and giving up three earned runs. In a word, he was forgettable.
Taijuan Walker, however, was not.
The 23 year old Seattle hurler needed just 83 pitches to get through six innings - including a five pitch sixth inning against the heart of the Astros' order. He didn't post huge strikeout numbers (just three) and allowed two walks - he was never truly overpowering - but he just kept getting outs against Astros hitters who were anxious and swinging early in counts more often than not.
The Mariners got the scoring started in the top of the second inning when Shawn O'Malley poked an RBI single to right field, scoring Stefen Romero, who had been running from second on the pitch. The Astros answered back in the bottom of the second inning with two runs of their own, with Colby Rasmus - debuting a slightly different stance, with his bat resting on his shoulder leading up to the hand load - knocking a long single off the left field scoreboard. After Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch on his left shoulder, Preson Tucker (in his first at bat since being recalled from Triple-A Fresno) laced a solid single into right center field to score Rasmus. For good measure, Luis Valbuena added a sacrifice fly to score Carlos Gomez from third base.
Each team scored a run in the third inning, with the Mariners getting their run on a ground rule double to dead center field by Franklin Gutierez to score Kyle Seager, who had stolen second base with the aid of a passed ball by Hank Conger. The Astros, for their part, scored on the virtue of a long double to left center field by Jed Lowrie and a big two out single to right center field by Evan Gattis.
In the fifth inning, the Mariners were happy beneficiaries of a lead-off double by Kyle Seager and then a single from Robinson Cano to tie the game at three and chase Scott Kazmir.
In the top of the seventh inning, things got a bit hairy for the Astros. After Kyle Seager walked against Will Harris to open the frame, Nelson Cruz knocked a single to Carlos Gomez, who appeared to very nearly throw Seager out in his attempt to go from first to third. Seager was called safe and the call on the field was upheld upon review by New York, though many Astros fans felt that Seager came off third base briefly while Lowrie's glove was still on him. Then, after a funky fielder's choice bouncer back to the mound that resulted in Seager being caught in a run down between third and home and both remaining runners moving up to second and third, the Astros intentionally walked Franklin Gutierrez to set up a bases-loaded match up between Harris and Mark Trumbo, who already had three home runs in the series but came into the at bat 0-3 on the night with two strikeouts. The result was both exciting and awe-inspiring for Astros fans:
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Video Courtesy of Astros.com Video Vault
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there for the Astros. The Mariners scored two runs in the top of the 8th inning, the Astros wasted a leadoff double for Jed Lowrie - his second double of the night - by stranding him at third after a passed ball as Carlos Correa popped out weakly to shortstop, Evan Gattis flied out meekly to very shallow right field, and Colby Rasmus struck out swinging.
Then the Mariners added three more on Logan Morrison's second late inning home run in as many games off Josh Fields into the Crawford Boxes. The three run shot put the Mariners up 8-3 and somehow mysteriously turned this writer's television off of its own volition. It was very strange.
Anyhow, after turning the TV back on, I was fortunate enough to see Carlos Gomez lead off the bottom of the ninth with a triple down the left field line, as Franklin Gutierrez had a hard time handling the ball down in the corner. Then, I was unfortunate enough to see Preston Tucker follow with a strikeout, Luis Valbuena pop out on the infield, and Hank Conger struck out to end the game and strand Carlos Gomez at third, along with Jose Altuve, his 7 game hit streak and 29 game on base streak all in the on-deck circle.