No pitcher is perfect.
Sometimes it’s as hard to limit the damage once the other team starts a rally, as it is to be perfect. Tonight neither Lance McCullers nor Ryan Pressly were perfect, but both stopped big innings from overtaking the Astros, and as a result, the Astros hung on to win 8-6.
For the second straight night, the Astros put up gaudy offensive numbers. And for the second straight night, the pitching allowed the Mariners to get back in the game. But unlike last night, tonight the defense managed to barely hold, and the Astros evened the series with Seattle 1-1
Again, much like last night, the Astros got off to a fast start, thanks to a three-run homer by Yordan Alvarez, his 19th.
But unlike last night, Seattle answered quickly, with J.P. Crawford leading off with a double off Astros starter Lance McCullers. Two batters later, Kyle Seager homered just over the glove of RF Kyle Tucker to bring the Mariners to within one run.
The Astros pounded Mariners starter Chris Flexen in the fourth, adding four runs to the lead with a lead-off single by Carlos Correa, a double by newly reactivated Aledmys Diaz, a two-RBI double by Myles Straw, an RBI single by Martin Maldonado, and a double by Jose Altuve.
Maldonado would score the fourth run on a wild pitch.
The Astros added a run in the fifth starting with a lead-off single by Yordan Alvarez, followed by a Kyle Tucker double and an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.
In the sixth inning, every Astros fan who watched last night’s game had an attack of PTSD, as the Mariners mounted another comeback effort. With one out the Mariners were starting to get to a visibly tiring McCullers, who loaded the bases allowing a single and two walks.
Jarred Kelenic then hit a two-run single leaving runners on first and second and one out. No doubt most of us expected Manager Dustry Baker to remove McCullers. That he did not probably reflects more on Dusty’s faith in the bullpen than in McCullers, but Lance buckled down by striking out the next two batters.
The panic attacks came back in the ninth, despite the fact that Baker sent the Astros’ shutdown closer in with a four-run lead. But Ryan Pressly allowed a lead-off single, and then Abraham Toro, traded just today to the Mariners, put a homer just over the right-field wall that Tucker was able to glove but not hold.
And the heart palpitations did not end there.
After the homer, Pressly walked J.P. Crawford, and with one out allowed a single to Mitch Haniger, bringing Kyle Seager to the plate as the winning run. But Seager flied out to left field, and Ty France grounded out to Yuli Gurriel to end the game.
A second straight miracle Mariners comeback was not to be.
And a gutsy performance by Pressly, who seemed on the verge of a meltdown after the homer that didn’t have to be, but he regained his composure to lock down the victory.
The Astros had fifteen hits, four doubles, and a homer. Altuve and Alvarez had three hits, and Gurriel, Tucker, and Diaz all had two. Among starters, only Michael Brantley failed to get a hit.
Starter Lance McCullers went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks. He amassed eight strikeouts.
Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were perfect in relief. This was surely the only time this year when the only bullpen figure who gave us heartburn was Ryan Pressly. But he came back and saved the game.
Perhaps not an official save, as he entered the game in a non-save situation. But it felt like one.
We do it all again at 2:40 p.m. CT tomorrow afternoon for the rubber game of the series.
Box score and videos HERE.