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Bullpen collapses, wastes JP France’s MLB debut as Astros fall against Mariners

Rafael Montero and Ryne Stanek threw JP France’s great start to the garbage can.

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

JP France had no easy task on Saturday. In the middle of a rough patch for the Astros, he was slated to make his MLB debut as their starter against the red-hot Seattle Mariners. The 28-year-old rookie turned out to have an outstanding debut but the Astros bullpen couldn’t do its job and the team dropped the lead on a 7x5 loss.

It was a forgettable, horrific eighth inning in which the Mariners pounded hard with seven runs against two of the best relievers for Houston in 2022. Rafael Montero and Ryne Stanek combined to allow seven hits and seven earned runs in just an inning, after France, Phil Maton, and Héctor Neris had gone seven scoreless.

Speaking of France, he threw five blank innings on 84 pitches (51 strikes). The righty surrendered only three hits, gave up a walk, and struck out five hitters.

France became only the fifth Astros pitcher to go at least five scoreless innings while allowing three or fewer hits in his MLB debut. The other four are Carlos Hernández (2001), Jarred Cosart (2013), Vince Velásquez (2015), and Hunter Brown (2022).

Then, with the Astros up 3-0, the horrendous eighth inning appeared. After getting the first two outs and giving up a two-out walk, the Mariners recorded three consecutive hits, another free pass, and four more hits in a row. That’s how you, unexpectedly, got seven runs after two outs.

The Astros tried to come back with two runs in the ninth, but the Mariners didn’t allow such a thing.

Offensively, Jeremy Peña stayed hot as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles. Peña is slashing .333/.346/.569 over his last 13 games, thanks to 17 hits across 51 at-bats.

On Sunday, both teams will close the series (3:10 pm CT) with Brandon Bielak on the mound for the Astros and Bryce Miller taking the ball to start for Seattle.