The Houston Astros will not go 162-0. After winning the first three games of the season against Seattle, the Mariners salvaged the final game of the series Thursday night scoring a pair of runs in the ninth to claim a 4-2 decision at Minute Maid Park.
Astros pitchers had held the Mariners to a remarkable 1-32 mark with runners in scoring position before Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura both delivered RBI singles against Ken Giles in the ninth. Giles had walked and hit a batter to set up the inning for Seattle.
“I didn’t want it to go like that,” Giles said. “But I just got to look past it and move on. Things didn’t go my way. We had a lot of chances. I had a lot of chances to put them away and I didn’t execute.”
The two teams combined for just 20 runs in 40 innings of play over four games.
“I don’t think either team really swung the bats the way they are going to swing during the season,” said manager A.J. Hinch. “So we will take our three out of four and get to the next series. I am happy we found ways to win games.”
One player who continued to provide offense is George Springer. A night after ending Wednesday’s game with a 13th inning walk off homer, Springer started the contest with a 454 foot blast to left field off Ariel Miranda. Springer is the first major league player to hit a lead-off home run after hitting a walk-off since San Diego’s Scott Hairston in 2007.
Mitch Haniger briefly tied the game at 1 in the third when he connected for a solo homer off Astros starter Joe Musgrove.
Marwin Gonzalez wasted little time putting the Astros back in front, starting the bottom of the third with his second home run of the season.
Seattle tied the game with a run in the sixth to chase Musgrove. However the Astros mustered just one infield single the remainder of the game against three Mariners relievers.
Hinch credited the Mariners pitching for some slow starts in addition to early season struggles.
“There is an anxiousness to a lot of players when you break camp,” Hinch added. “You get into the season, you want your first hit and want to feel like you are in this rhythm. You get distracted a little bit in the first week. We certainly haven’t swung the bats perfectly.”
The reigning batting champion Jose Altuve would be in that category. Altuve beat out an infield hit but is just 3-17 at the plate.
“As a few outs have built up on him I think he is started to swing the bat with a little more aggressiveness out of the zone,” Hinch explained. “It is rarity to see him to go through a series and strike out a few times. It is one series, it will quickly evaporate once he gets a couple of multi-hit games and the world will be right again.”
What might not be right is Collin McHugh. A key part of the rotation over the last three seasons, McHugh pitched just one inning in his rehab start with Triple-A Fresno. If he was bothered by more right shoulder tendinitis, his return to the starting staff could be in doubt.
The Astros will host Kansas City in a three-game weekend series. Mike Fiers will make his first start of the year Friday night.
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