After three wins in a row in the four-game series against the Mariners, the Astros couldn’t sweep Seattle on Thursday and fell 1-0 as they were stymied by a stellar Yusei Kikuchi, who outdueled youngster Luis García. Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman combined for the only two hits of the game for Houston.
García was the tough-luck losing pitcher despite having his best performance of the season. The 24-year-old worked for five innings in which he threw 73 pitches (46 strikes) and made the Mariners whiff 14 times out of 31 swings. He surrendered one earned run and three hits, including a solo homer from Taylor Trammell’s bat in the third inning that accounted for the lone run of the contest.
The young righty, whose ERA fell to 2.70, didn’t walk anyone and struck out six hitters. He was the highlight of the game for the Astros. He was locked in and used all his repertoire to fool hitters and made them swing and miss pretty often. In fact, he collected 14 whiffs (31 swings) to tie a personal best.
But, unfortunately, he ran into a brilliant Kikuchi, who had a no-hitter going until Carlos Correa’s one-out double in the seventh episode. Kikuchi departed after seven one-hit, scoreless frames, two walks, and seven punchouts. Anthony Misiewicz and Kendall Graveman followed him out of the ‘pen to end the game.
Despite the Astros’ bullpen has been pretty busy of late, Bryan Abreu, Brooks Raley, and Joe Smith combined to hang four zeroes and allow only one hit with three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Astros had a shot with Correa’s two-bagger —just his fourth extra-base hit in his last 17 games—, but the Mariners played a good defense through the whole game. Immediately after that double, Yuli Gurriel was a victim of a good defensive action by Kikuchi and Aledmys Díaz hit a grounder to shortstop J.P. Crawford.
In the final frame, facing Graveman, Bregman recorded a hard single with two outs on the board. Correa was next and hit a shallow fly ball that could have fallen for a hit had it not been for Trammell’s speed at center field. That play resulted in the first shutout for the Astros’ offense in 2021.
The Astros will get back to action this Friday when they begin a three-game series vs the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 4.58 ERA) will face lefty Ryan Yarbrough (1-2, 4.28 ERA).