Saturday felt more like a vintage 2018 Astros win, with a strong pitching performance buoying Houston to a 3-1 win over the Mariners to make it eight in a row.
Without a doubt, the star of the evening was Justin Verlander, who turning in arguably the best pitching performance the team has seen yet in the young season. Remember early last year, when the Astros’ rotation littered the top of the strikeout leaderboard? Verlander decided to reach back to that moment, striking out eleven M’s over six innings while walking none, including eight of the first ten batters faced with a stretch of six in a row from the first through third. That makes it just the second double-digit strikeout game from an Astros starter this season, and the first since Gerrit Cole did it back in Game 2.
His lone mistake was a Mitch Haniger solo shot in the fourth (the M’s first base runner of the game), which keeps their seventeen-game streak alive, but outside of that, there was just a lone Dan Vogelbach single.
Speaking of home run streaks, Jose Altuve kept his alive, homering for the seventh time this year. That makes it five in a row for him; one more and he ties Morgan Ensberg’s six-game streak back in 2006. His was the second of the game, after Robinson Chirinos opened the scoring with one in the third. There wasn’t a lot of other offense outside of those; a George Springer leadoff hit, Michael Brantley RBI single later in the third, and Yuli Gurriel double, and a second Altuve hit (plus a walk to Chirinos). You don’t need too much offense though when some of them go over the wall and you get a pitching performance like that to make it stand up.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was able to build off of Verlander’s dominance. Will Harris allowed two hits but stranded them in the seventh, then Ryan Pressley added a hitless inning, his 27th straight scoreless appearance. Roberto Osuna’s 1-2-3 ninth notched him his sixth save in 2019.
The win moves Houston to 10-5 on the season, and coming against the division-leading Mariners, moves them to just two back. Gerrit Cole will attempt to half that lead tomorrow against Marco Gonzales as the Astros go for their ninth-straight win.