M's Take Two of Three From Houston, Climb Back to .500

After sweeping the Athletics in Oakland, Seattle returned back to the Emerald City to face some familiar foes. The Houston Astros were in town to start the homestand this weekend and Friday was the debut of the Nike City Connect jerseys. We saw the M’s mount a late comeback, but fall just a bit short in the end, thanks to a questionable non-strike call and base running blunders near the end Friday. Saturday, another come-from-behind performance, but this time it was successful. Finally, Sunday’s day game resulted in a series-winning performance backed by the team’s youngsters in Bryce Miller and Julio Rodriguez. Here’s a recap of all three against H-Town, starting Friday night.

The brand-new jerseys were on display to start the weekend, with Seattle’s top dog on the bump in Luis Castillo.

This game was scoreless up until, forgive me if you have heard this before, a three-run home run by known Mariner-killer Yordan Alvarez. After Castillo couldn’t get out of the jam, and surrendered a two-out walk to Alex Bregman, Yordan put one out over the head of Julio Rodriguez to give Houston a three-run lead. One inning later, the Astros added one more to their lead on a successful first-and-third steal and run.

Bottom five, and the M’s woke up on the offensive side. After consecutive singles by Cal Raleigh and Teoscar Hernandez, and a walk to Taylor Trammell…the bases were loaded for Kolten Wong, who has seemingly fixed his approach as of late, and that was proven Friday night. Wong laced a bases-clearing double to get the M’s within one.

After a few following innings of scoreless baseball, Eugenio Suarez clutched up for Seattle in the eighth. Ty France and Jarred Kelenic both reached on singles, and Suarez, with two down, pushed a ground ball through the four-hole to knot things up at four.

Heading to the ninth, and it was Matt Brash to face the heart of Houston’s order. After walking Jose Abreu, Brash faced Tucker, where everyone in the stadium and at home saw home plate umpire Shane Livensparger grant Tucker ball three, on what should have been strike three looking. Instead, one pitch later, Tucker smacked a go-ahead two run homer into the area below the batter’s eye.

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners

Matt Brash sits in the dugout in disbelief after Kyle Tucker's two-run home run Friday night. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Teoscar Hernandez led off the home ninth, where he drove a ball into left center, but hesitated rounding first and was tagged out at second by Mauricio Dubon for the first out of the inning. One pitch later, and J.P. Crawford singled. Following Crawford was Taylor Tramell, who grounded into a double play, that ended the game with Crawford being run down in a pickle. This ended a heart-breaking 6-4 loss on Friday night.

Saturday night’s showdown featured a veteran in Marco Gonzales and a rookie making his MLB debut in J.P. France.

This game was scoreless until Houston jumped ahead in the fourth, on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Tucker and an RBI single by Jeremy Pena. The Astros added one more an inning later on a Yordan Alvarez opposite field double, where Seattle was able to limit the damage to just one as the Kelenic-Crawford-Murphy relay got Mauricio Dubon tagged out at home.

It was yet another chance for the Mariners to attempt a comeback, and safe to say, the bottom of the eighth welcomed Seattle’s friend to T-Mobile Park, and his name is “Chaos Ball”.

After two quick outs against ex-Mariner Rafael Montero, here’s how things shook out: Eugenio Suarez walk, Cal Raleigh single, Teoscar Hernandez single… and JP Crawford dug in.

J.P. hit a frozen rope, bases-clearing double to tie things up at three apiece, and Seattle was certainly not finished. Taylor Trammell walked, and Jose Caballero lived up to the moment with a double to the warning track in left center, scoring both Crawford and Trammell.

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners

J.P. Crawford fires the arrow back to the Mariners' dugout after his bases-clearing, three-run double Saturday night. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Julio and Jarred Kelenic continued the inning on back-to-back RBI singles and in the blink of an eye, Seattle scored seven consecutive runs with two outs.

Paul Sewald didn’t have his cleanest inning allowing two in the top of the ninth but was able to get Mauricio Dubon to chase a slider off the plate, ending Saturday’s thriller in front of a packed house, 7-5 in favor of the home team.

Sunday’s rubber match showcased rookie starter Bryce Miller in his home debut, up against Brandon Bielak making his first start of the season.

Miller, much like in his first career start in Oakland, was phenomenal, and unlike the first two games (or last six in total), the M’s were able to score first Sunday afternoon.

Julio Rodriguez hit the farthest home run of his young career (454 feet) into the concourse beyond “The ‘Pen” to give Seattle a lead in the third. Later in the inning, Cal Raleigh scored Eugenio Suarez on a fielding error by Jose Abreu.

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners

Julio Rodriguez bat flips after his 454-foot home run Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Seattle had a minimum of two base runners every inning until the seventh. Safe to say Bielak was lucky he was wearing orange to avoid all the traffic Sunday.

In the fifth, Jarred Kelenic scored on a rare balk by reliever Matt Gage giving the M’s a 3-0 lead. Bryce Miller’s day was done after six strong, not allowing a run (one ER allowed over 12 innings to start career) while only giving up to hits, and striking out five.

After Miller’s exit, a double and single off of Gabe Speier allowed Houston to put a run on the board, narrowing the lead to two. This was the first run Speier has given up all season. Matt Brash came in and closed the door in the seventh.

"Los Bomberos" put out the fire Sunday: five strikeouts and just two hits over three innings. They held Miller’s strong start in place, and Seattle took the finale by a score of 3-1.

Seattle, after taking the final two of three from the Astros, is back to .500. They welcome in the AL West-leading Texas Rangers for this first time in 2023. Here is a look at the pitching matchups beginning tomorrow night in T-Mobile Park:

  • Monday 5/8 @ 6:40 PM: RHP Logan Gilbert (1-1, 4.01 ERA) vs RHP Jon Gray (1-1, 4.01 ERA)
  • Tuesday 5/9 @ 6:40 PM: RHP George Kirby (3-2, 3.11 ERA) vs LHP Andrew Heaney (2-2, 5.52 ERA)
  • Wednesday 5/10 @ 12:40 PM: RHP Luis Castillo (2-0, 2.38 ERA) vs TBD

AL West standings as of Sunday afternoon:

  • 1.Texas Rangers (20-13)
  • 2.Los Angeles Angels (19-16)
  • T3.Seattle Mariners (17-17)
  • T3.Houston Astros (17-17)
  • 5.Oakland Athletics (8-27)

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