Going into this game the Houston Astros have scored 200 more runs than they have allowed. This is a massive run differential, in fact the biggest run differential in baseball, and according to the advanced stats nerds it should translate into an 80-36 record. After tonight the Astros are actually 73-44.
On the other hand, the Seattle Mariners have scored 27 FEWER runs than their opponents before tonight, and the stats guys say such a team should have a record of 55-61. In fact they are 67 -50.
According to the pythagorean records the Astros should have a 25 game lead over the Mariners. In fact the real lead IS ONLY SIX GAMES. If the Astros had won these last two games at home, the Mariners would be 10 games behind and practically out of contention for the divisional lead. No doubt in Seattle tonight the fans are celebrating new hope. I mean, what chance did anyone think they had of taking two games in which the starting pitchers were Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole?
However, the Astros still maintain a 4.5 game lead over the Oakland A’s after tonight’s games.
The difference in these last two games has been timely hitting, hitting in bunches, especially at the top of the order. Last night the Mariners’ 1-2-3 hitters were 10-13, with 3 home runs, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored. Tonight it was the 1-2-4 hitters who rocked the Astros, going 6-12, with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored. Mitch Haniger was 4-5 last night and 2-4 tonight. For both nights he has four doubles and a home run. His double in the sixth tonight gave the Mariners their first run, sending Dee Gordon to third, and Gordon would then tie the score when the 2 hitter Denard Span singled him in.
But the real Astro killer tonight was Nelson Cruz, whose 2 run double in the eighth inning against Gerrit Cole’s reliever, Ryan Pressly, put the Mariners ahead for good.
On the other hand, the Astros 1-2-3-4 hitters in the last two games have managed only 4 RBI. Last night the Astros were 2-10 with RISP and tonight they were 2-8.
The Astros only runs tonight came in the fifth inning when Tony Kemp, hitting lead off, got an RBI single, and Alex Bregman, who had his first two hit night in August, got an RBI double off the left field wall.
Carlos Correa had an inauspicious return to the Astros tonight, going 0-3 with a walk, and stranding 3 runners in scoring position with 2 outs.
Gerrit Cole pitched better today than his line of 4 runs in 7.1 innings, as two of the runs came from the double by Nelson Cruz off Ryan Pressly. The Mariners did not score their first run until the sixth inning. His five strikeouts tonight leave him tied for the AL strikeout lead with Boston’s Chris Sale. Cole took the loss and is 10-5 for the season.
Mike Leake started for Seattle and pitched 6 innings allowing two runs, but the winning pitcher was Adam Warren. Edwin Diaz got his 44th save.
After a 6-2 road trip, including a series victory against Seattle, the Astros’ home woes continue. They have now lost 6 straight games at home, and for the season are only 6 games over .500 at home. Their OPS for the season overall is .759, fifth best in MLB. On the road the OPS is .792, 2nd in baseball behind only the A’s, but at home the Astros are an anemic .723, 19th in baseball. The Astros have scored 155 more runs away from home than their opponents, while at home the run differential is only +42. Both the pitching and the hitting are less effective for the Astros at Minute Maid Park than away for home.
And some more injury news. Jake Marisnick, sent up from Fresno AAA to replace the injured All Star George Springer, experienced groin “discomfort” after hitting a double and had to leave the game. Since August 1, Jake has been slashing .438/.591/875 with 2 homers and a 288 wRC+. Since coming back from Fresno his strikeouts have been way down and his walks way up. When Jake Marisnick is cold he can be terrible. When he is hot he can be very dangerous. Why did he have to go down now? And he makes plays like this.
Marisnick, whose OPS has been 1.402 in the last seven days, is one of four hitters who have been basically carrying the hitting load for the Astros this last week. The other three are Tyler White, OPS 1.153, Tony Kemp, .922, and Marwin Gonzalez, .921.
Tomorrow Wade LeBlanc of Seattle battles Charlie Morton, game time 6:10 CDT.
Box score and videos here.