PREVIEW: Astros try to rebound from 8th inning collapse, win series in finale vs. Mariners

May 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Brandon Bielak (64) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Astros try to rebound from 8th inning collapse, win series in finale vs. Mariners

The Houston Astros looked to be headed for a second straight win versus the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night, then the bottom of the eighth happened.

Leading 3-0 with two out in the bottom of the frame, Rafael Montero and Ryne Stanek surrendered seven runs allowing the Mariners to escape with an improbable 7-5 victory.

“It started with the walk, two-out walk, a couple infield hits. And it started just like a feeding frenzy,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Yeah, that was tough. Tough to take.”

It was Seattle’s fifth victory in the team’s past six games. The Mariners have trailed in each of those contests.

Houston squandered J.P. France’s five innings of shutout ball in his major league debut.

The Astros plan to send right-hander Brandon Bielak (0-0, 4.50) to the mound Sunday afternoon for his first start of the season and just the ninth of his MLB career. Bielak is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in seven previous relief appearances against Seattle.

Seattle will counter with right-hander Bryce Miller, making his second big league start.

Miller might be more eager for his second start in the major leagues than he was for his first as a Texas native who grew up watching the Astros.

Miller (0-0, 1.50 ERA) made his first start Tuesday at Oakland in front of a crowd of just 2,583 at the Coliseum.

He retired the first 16 batters he faced and allowed one run on two hits in six innings. He struck out 10 and didn’t issue a base on balls, becoming just the third pitcher in MLB history with double-digit strikeouts and no walks in his debut, joining Johnny Cueto (2008) and Stephen Strasburg (2010).

“Obviously, the stage was bigger, but I think the atmosphere kind of helped me ease into it,” Miller said. “I had a lot of fun. I just went out and threw.”

Though the numbers are just from one appearance, analysis from Statcast showed Miller’s fastball has the most extreme vertical movement of any pitch in the majors, “rising” 4.7 inches more than the average fastball.

“The fastball is just unique,” Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth said. “It’s heavy, and it can just dominate guys. And that’s what he did.”

With a victory in the series finale, Houston will win the series and stay above .500 for the season, while Seattle can take the series and reach .500 should they take the rubber game of the three-game set.

–Field Level Media contributed to this story

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