May 6, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher J.P. France (68) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Eighth-inning implosion dooms Astros in 7-5 loss to Mariners
The Houston Astros appeared to be on their way to securing a second-straight win over their American League West rival, the Seattle Mariners, on Saturday night until they didn’t.
In what was a disastrous eighth inning for Houston (17-16), the Mariners scored seven runs to blow past the Astros 7-5.
The Astros held the Mariners (16-17) scoreless for 7.2 innings. It all fell apart with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Right-handed reliever Rafael Montero began the inning with a 3-0 lead. He was able to get Ty France to ground out, and he also struck out Jarred Kelenic. Then Montero gave up a walk to Eugenio Suarez and singles to Cal Raleigh and Teoscar Hernandez to load the bases.
Then J.P. Crawford opened the floodgates for Seattle with a bases-clearing double that knotted the score at 3. The bleeding did not stop there, however. Reliever Ryne Stanek replaced Montero to try and keep the game tied. He could not.
Stanek gave up a walk to Taylor Trammell to put runners on first and second. Jose Caballero was up next. He doubled, plating both Crawford and Trammell giving Seattle a 5-3 lead.
The Mariners were not done. Julio Rodriguez singled to bring Caballero home, and then Kelenic’s line-drive single brought home Rodriguez.
By the time the inning ended, 12 men had come to the plate, and Seattle led 7-3 heading into the ninth. While the Astros scored two runs to cut the deficit to 7-5, it was not enough to overcome the eighth-inning catastrophe.
France shuts down Seattle
Saturday night saw right-handed pitcher J.P. France make his MLB debut for the Astros, and he put together a strong performance against the Mariners.
France opened the game with a strikeout of Julio Rodriguez, and then the Mariners tested the 28-year-old. Seattle loaded the bases with just the lone out thanks to a single by Ty France, a hit-by-pitch to Jarred Kelenic, and a walk to Eugenio Suarez.
France responded to the adversity by striking out Cal Raleigh and Teoscar Hernandez to keep Seattle off the scoreboard. It also set the tone for his entire outing.
France gave up just three hits in five scoreless innings. He also struck out five. His chance at notching the win was erased thanks to the Astros’ eighth-inning collapse.
Astros’ offense comes in bunches
Houston’s lineup got to left-handed starting pitcher Marco Gonzales in the fourth inning. Second baseman Mauricio Dubón started things off with a single to left field. Left fielder Yordan Álvarez and designated hitter José Abreu drew walks to load the bases with just one out.
Right fielder Kyle Tucker followed, and he put the first pitch he saw in play. His sacrifice fly to right field would score Dubón.
After the sac-fly, shortstop Jeremy Peña singled on a line drive to left field, which allowed Álvarez to score from second base and made it 2-0 for Houston.
Álvarez extended the Astros’ cushion in the fifth inning with a double to left field that allowed both center fielder Jake Meyers and Dubón to score, at least for a brief moment.
While Meyers safely scored from third base on Álvarez’s hit, Dubón did not. Álvarez’s double rolled all the way to the wall in left field, but Jarred Kelenic quickly got the ball back into the infield. Seattle’s J.P. Crawford threw the ball to catcher Tom Murphy, who tagged Dubón at home plate.
While he was initially called safe, Seattle challenged the play, and Dubón’s score was wiped off the board. Houston led 3-0 when it was all said and done heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. Meyers doubled in the ninth inning to score Tucker and Peña.
Álvarez loves making big plays against Seattle, and not all of them are on offense. The Cuban native had an impressive snag in the bottom of the fifth inning off a fly ball from Seattle’s Ty France on Saturday.
The ball was heading toward foul territory and into the stands, but Álvarez rushed over to the crowd and picked it off over the short wall for the final out of the inning.
News and Notes
Houston Astros optioned right-handed pitcher Ronel Blanco to the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys.
• Jose Altuve took batting practice on the field on Saturday in Seattle for the first time since suffering the fractured right thumb injury in the World Baseball Classic.
The Astros return to T-Mobile Park for the series finale against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon. Brandon Bielak is expected to start for Houston. He will face off against Seattle’s
Bryce Miller. The first pitch is set for 3:10 p.m. CT.