For the second night in a row, the Houston Astros cruised to an easy victory, winning the final game of their four game series against the Seattle Mariners 9-2. Perhaps they have left their recent hitting woes behind them.
Big hitting, along with the usual near perfect starting pitching we have come to expect, were an invincible combination in these last two games. Last night Gerrit Cole gave up 0 earned runs in 7 innings. Tonight Charlie Morton also tossed seven scoreless, allowing only 3 singles, no walks, and 8 strikeouts. No Mariner base runners got past first against Morton.
In 25 innings thus far in 2018, Morton has allowed only 2 earned runs, 16 hits, with a WHIP of 0.88. He is 3-0 with a 072 ERA.
Meanwhile the bats for the second night running opened up a barrage of run support for this fine pitching, amassing 11 hits, 5 walks and 2 home runs.
The game started like so many other 2018 Astros’ pitching duels, with the Mariner starter, Marco Gonzales, holding the Astros scoreless through four innings, eventually striking out 8 in 4 2⁄3 innings.
In the fourth inning Gonzales was saved by one of the strangest plays imaginable, a TOOTBLAN gaffe reminiscent of T-ball. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Evan Gattis hit a grounder to third. Kyle Seager stepped on third base for the force, and then threw to second for the double play, no throw to 1st. Gattis, apparently thinking there were three outs, strolled off first base into the middle of the infield, where he was tagged out, completing the bizarre triple play. Wake up son.
Which is exactly what the Stros did in the fifth. Alex Bregman led off with a double down the third base line (later inexplicably ruled an error) followed by a Marwin Gonzalez smash single off the glove of the embattled third baseman Seager. Bregman advanced to third. In another in a number of strange plays this day, center fielder Dee Gordon allowed a Josh Reddick pop up to drop in front of him, allowing Alex Bregman to score, but Gordon’s throw resulted in a force out of Gonzalez at second. RBI Reddick on the fielder’s choice. Max Stassi then singled, George Springer walked and with the bases loaded Jose Altuve hit a bases clearing 3 run double to right on a fly ball with a hit probability of 27%.
In the seventh inning the Astros would add a run on a Max Stassi opposite field solo shot just over the right field fence.
Meanwhile Charlie Morton was mowing down the Mariners’ lineup. At one point he retired 15 straight batters until Nelson Cruz managed a weak single in the seventh. Morton completed seven shutout innings, throwing only 86 pitches, 59 for strikes.
In the eight inning the Astros added another run on an Evan Gattis RBI single, scoring Jose Altuve from second. Altuve finished the game 3-4, with 2 doubles, 4 RBI and one run scored.
The Mariners scored their only 2 runs in the eighth inning, both off Tony Sipp, just back from the DL.
The Astros completed the rout in the ninth, starting with a Reddick lead-off homer. Stassi then walked, followed by a George Springer single. Altuve smashed another double, a seemingly catchable ball over Gordon’s head in center, scoring Stassi. Carlos Correa completed the scoring, plating Springer with a sacrifice fly.
Brad Peacock pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out 2.
Notes: Three of the Astros’ starting pitchers are among the league leaders in ERA, with Morton #1 at 0.72, followed closely by Gerrit Cole, at 0.96, and with Justin Verlander lagging behind at 1.35. Gerrit Cole leads the league in strikeouts. Just in case you didn’t know, an ERA less than 1 means this pitcher gives up, on average, less than one run per nine inning game. Just saying.
In his last 5 games, Jake Marisnick is 0-17, with 12 strikeouts. For the season his BA is .122, with a .367 OPS. He hasn’t faced Morton, Cole or Verlander even once during this streak. Probably, if you gave Morton, Cole, or Verlander a bat, any one of them could hit as well. Meanwhile his left handed hitting outfield counterpart, Derek Fisher, is hitting .125, with an OPS of .421.
Max Stassi continues to impress with his pleasantly surprising hot bat. Today he was 2-3, with a BB, scoring 3 runs and hitting his second home run of the season in limited playing time. He is currently hitting .310, with a .998 OPS.
Questions for Discussion:
- Does Jake Marisnick need a trip to AAA to get straightened out? If so, who gets brought up?
- Has there ever been a better starting rotation in baseball history? If so which?