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The Time Bomb Goes Off: the Astros’ Lineup Finally Unloads on the Mariners’ Pitching, 11-5

It took about a game and a half to happen, but for those waiting for the Astros hitters to finally tee off, it was exciting!

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe, like me, you were expecting more fireworks yesterday in the series opener in Seattle. After all, the Astros have a pretty historically great offense this year, while the Mariners have been extremely lackluster at basically every part of run prevention. Those three runs in the first seemed to be teasing something more, but then things settled down the rest of the night.

Things seemed to be going the same way today. Andrew Moore, on his third franchise of the year and seeing his first Major League action since 2017 (with his second most-recent start being the Astros’ 2017 playoff clincher, interestingly enough), sent the ‘Stros down in order in the first two innings. Tony Kemp led off the third with a big homer, but Moore escaped the inning after allowing two more runners to reach.

The fourth inning felt similar. Robinson Chirinos absolutely crushed a balled into the upper deck, but it came after Josh Reddick was thrown out trying to steal, once against leaving the feeling of “shouldn’t the Astros be doing a little more against these guys?”

The fifth inning felt like a turning point of sorts, though. After two quick outs, it looked like Moore might somehow be able to keep his strong start going another inning, when things very quickly fell apart. Derek Fisher laced a double into left-center field, Alex Bregman launched a double off the left field wall, and suddenly, it was 3-1 Astros and there would be no Moore. Austin Adams picked up in much the same place though, and a Michael Brantley double down the third base line would add another run.

Meanwhile, Wade Miley was doing Wade-Miley-type things on the mound, cruising through five innings with a Mitch Haniger solo shot the only major negative on the night. Unfortunately, the sixth inning would not prove so fortunate. After a leadoff single by Mallex Smith and a walk to Haniger, Miley was out, with a final line of five innings, six Ks, three hits, three walks, and three runs allowed (we’ll get there). Josh James looked like he might be able to put out the fire after a strike out and a fly out, but an Omar Narváez broken-bat bloop single brought in a run. A Kyle Seager walk would load the bases up and spell the end of the night for James as well.

At that point, Daniel Vogelbach came in as a pinch hitter, so the recently-recalled Reymin Guduan came in as the only lefty out of the pen. Except that Vogelbach momentarily forgot that he can’t hit lefties and did this:

The Astros headed into the seventh down 5-4, at which point they apparently said to themselves “What if we made the rest of the game out of that fifth inning?” And thus, the floodgates opened. Brandon Brennan (which I still can’t believe is a real name) walked the Astros’ pinch hitter and answer-to-Vogelbach-in-most-ways Tyler White (who was then replaced with Myles Straw), gave up a single to Jake Marisnick, then an RBI single to Derek Fisher, then a steal to Fisher. There wouldn’t be any more hits that inning, but there didn’t need to be with that speed on the bases, and Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel brought them in with a weak ground ball and a sac fly, respectively.

The Bugs Bunny-style conga line around the bases continued in the eighth off of Jesse Biddle. Chirinos walked, Kemp got a bunt single, Straw singled in Chirinos, Marisnick doubled in Kemp and Straw (who almost caught up to Kemp after he eased up in the home stretch), Fisher almost lined one over a jumping Mitch Haniger in right but still got Marisnick to third, and then Bregman sac flied him in.

And with that, the Astros had completed their thirteen-hit, eleven-run onslaught. Will Harris, Chris Devenski, and Brady Rodgers (first appearance since 5/22) each threw a scoreless inning, with Harris even getting a pair of strikeouts. Of course, Guduan ended up with the win despite having easily the worst outing of the six Houston pitchers in the game tonight, because the baseball gods have a sense of humor.

The lineup was just loaded with great performances today. Five different players scored two runs, including Myles Straw, who didn’t enter the game until the seventh inning (and then went on to play his first innings of shortstop in the majors). Fisher, Bregman, Brantley, Kemp, and Marisnick all went 2-4 (with Fisher, Brantley, and Kemp all adding a walk to that). Chirinos had that massive home run. Josh Reddick only went 1-5, but he did rob yet another home run, which helps just as much.

The Astros will go for the clinch in this four game series tomorrow at 9:10 Central Time, with Brad Peacock facing off against Mike Leake. With tonight’s win, Houston sits at 42-20, in a virtual tie with the Minnesota Twins for best record in the American League.