Entering today, the Astros were the best hitting team in the majors, going by wRC+. Also entering today, the Mariners had allowed more runs allowed than any other team in the majors. No one would have blamed you if you had expected tonight to be a night of offensive fireworks for the Astros.
Heck, no one would have blamed you if you thought that fifteen minutes into the game. After all, the Astros put up a three-spot on Mariners’ opener Cory Gearrin in the first. After Alex Bregman walked and stole second, Josh Reddick tripled him in, then Yuli Gurriel brought Reddick in on a fielder’s choice, then Robinson Chirinos added a solo home run for good measure.
Not only that, but Wade LeBlanc would be stepping in to take over for Gearrin in the second. LeBlanc has had a fairly rough year so far, with an ERA of 6.99 entering the day, and his last appearance against the Astros back in April ended in under five innings, with his two allowed runs feeling lucky compared to his eight hits allowed.
But the rest of the evening wound up being incredibly quiet. All of the scoring in the game wound up being confined to the top of the first, the bottom of the third, and the top of the sixth. The Astros would only get three more hits (plus a hit batter and a second walk) the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the Mariners would muster a pair of solo home runs, but couldn’t turn their remaining five hits and fives walks into anything.
For what it’s worth, the Astros’ fourth run was pretty bizarre. After a Bregman double and a Reddick bloop single with one out, Yuli hit a ground ball to shortstop Dylan Moore that looked tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. Except that Moore decided to throw home. Not the ideal strategy, maybe, but it would have made sense…had catcher Omar Narváez not taken off to back up the first baseman one the presumed double play. You certainly don’t see that every day.
The Astros threatened again in the seventh, with a Tyler White leadoff walk and a Myles Straw single, but they both got stranded. Jake Marisnick leading off the second with an HBP was the only other offense they could manage against LeBlanc, who threw the final eight innings for the M’s.
Thankfully, that wound up being enough, as the Astros managed to stitch together a solid enough performance. Corbin Martin got the start, and only lasted three innings thanks to a high pitch count. By the end of the third, after allowing dingers to Mallex Smith and Edwin Encarnacion, Martin was already at 76 pitches. On the night, he allowed two other hits and three walks while striking out three.
Thankfully, the bullpen arms with the heaviest usage got to rest, as Framber Valdez (last appearance May 26th) got the next four innings and the eventual win, then Chris Devenski (last appearance May 29th) took the eighth. Ryan Pressley then stepped in for the ninth to pick up his third save on the year.
Valdez wasn’t overpowering, but he was good enough to mostly quiet Seattle’s lineup. The first batter he saw, Shed Long, hit a double and then then reached third on a fly ball, but he would be stranded there on a ground out and a strike out. Long would be the last batter of the night to reach third for the Mariners. Valdez would allow one more single the rest of the way, finishing with three total strikeouts and two more walks, Devenski would allow one hit in an otherwise quiet inning that saw him picking up a K, and Pressley had a one-two-three ninth. Also of note was another stellar Jake play to end the eigth:
The win moves the Astros to 41-20 on the year, 9.0 games ahead of the second place Rangers. Tomorrow will mark game two of a four game set against Seattle, with former Mariner Wade Miley starting for the Astros and somebody presumably starting for the Mariners, although they haven’t announced a starter yet, so maybe they’ll switch things up and try a pitching machine or something. Tune in tomorrow to find out!