HOUSTON – The Mariners came to Houston with three straight streak wins.
But two of the three teams they did it against were Baltimore and Texas – both with losing records – and Houston at Seattle.
So could the Mariners continue their streak in a stadium where they are struggling, against the runaway AL West leader and once again a title contender?
The answer, at least for one night, was yes. Even one night when Robbie Ray, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, got into trouble again.
Cal Raleigh hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs, Julio Rodriguez hit a two-run blast, and the bullpen looked great, leading the Mariners to a 7-4 win over the Astros on Monday night.
The game had a crazy last inning, with three ejections and the benches cleared after the Mariners’ Ty France was hit by a pitch. But it was the work done much earlier that allowed Seattle to win.
“Interesting game tonight, I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “This place hasn’t been kind to us, and we need to turn it around. Sometimes playing with a little emotion and playing on nerves can help, and our guys responded there late in the game. It was a great victory. »
The Mariners didn’t have history on their side.
They had won just four of their last 30 games at Minute Maid Park, including being swept in a three-game series last month.
If that wasn’t daunting enough, Houston starter Cristian Javier had gone unmarked in three career starts against the Mariners, covering 18 1/3 innings. Javier pitched 5 2/3 against Seattle in a 4-0 win at Houston here on May 3.
Seattle ended its drought against Javier in the first inning. Rodriguez hit a two-out single to center and JP Crawford brought it home with a double to left field.
It took only three pitches for Houston to erase the deficit in the bottom of the inning. Jose Altuve destroyed a Ray fastball that was in the center of the strike zone, sending him well over the seats in left field for his 175th career home run.
The Mariners reacted quickly. Adam Frazier started the second inning with a walk. Dylan Moore, getting a rare start against a right-handed pitcher, was hit by a one-out pitch.
That brought Raleigh, hitting .152. No matter. The Mariners catcher hit a line into the right field seats for his sixth homer of the season, giving the Mariners a 4-1 lead.
“We’re seeing the emergence of Cal Raleigh,” Servais said. “It’s falling into place for him. He hits the ball hard, with power, and has very good sticks.
But Ray, last year’s Cy Young Award winner with Toronto, who signed a five-year, $115 million deal with Seattle in the offseason, once again couldn’t hold a lead.
Homers from Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick paired up, and Altuve hit an unearned run after a Crawford pitch error at shortstop to tie the score at 4.
Raleigh came back to the charge in the fourth inning. Adam Frazier started the inning with a double, ending an 0-for-20 streak, but it looked like he might be stuck at second after Javier knocked out the next two batters.
Enter Raleigh, who scored in the middle to score Frazier. After a Jesse Winker single, Javier’s night was over, having allowed five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
So, for the third time, Ray was given a lead to work with. The first two times, the advances lasted one out. And that would have been fate again had it not been for great defensive play.
Altuve snatched a one-out single to right field, and Michael Brantley followed with a double that bounced off the wall in right field. Moore lined the ball up, made a nice throw to second baseman Frazier, who threw a one-hopper to Raleigh.
The catcher tagged Altuve, who was trying to score from first base.
“The biggest play of the game was that throw-in when we threw the guy to the plate,” Servais said.
Ray then worked a scoreless fifth inning, leaving the bullpen with a one-run lead.
That was the good news of his release. The bad: Again, he was hurt by a bad inning but he was never in good rhythm, allowing all four runs on eight hits and three walks.
But he finished with three scoreless and it was good enough for him and the Mariners to win, thanks to the offense and stellar work from the bullpen.
“I’ll give Robbie a ton of credit because as lousy as he was at the start, he tried to make some adjustments and was able to put in three zeros for us,” Servais said. “It meant everything, allowing us to hang on and win the game.”
Said Ray, “It looked like they were on my stuff, so I knew I had to make an adjustment and I started to mix it up a bit more.”
Penn Murfee pitched 1 2/3 innings scoreless. Ryan Borucki made his Mariners debut, forcing Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez to retire to finish in seventh.
Sergio Romo shook off trouble in the eighth, eliminating the team.
The Mariners got some insurance when Julio Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the ninth, just after France was hit by a pitch from Hector Neris that led both teams out onto the field.
“He threw a ball behind Ty France, that’s pretty clear,” Servais said.
There were plenty of jawbones, but not much more than that. Servais was ejected, although he did not know why afterwards.
“The benches cleared and [the umpires] are going to step in and do something, and they did,” Servais said of his expulsion.
After the Rodriguez home run, Neris pitched Eugenio Suarez. Neris, who had been warned, was ejected this time, along with Astros manager Dusty Baker.
After the drama, Diego Castillo closed it with a little drama at the end of the ninth. It secured the Mariners their first game-winning road trip of the season and puts them one win on another series win.
THE SCORE OF THE BOX