HOUSTON -- The Mariners had such a good read on Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel the first time through the batting order on Tuesday night that the veteran left-hander was left wondering whether he has been tipping his pitches.
The breaking point came when Kyle Seager swung at a two-seam fastball on the outside corner and sent it a projected 337 feet, according to Statcast™, into the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field for a three-run homer that capped a four-run outburst in the first inning and sent the Mariners on their way to a 7-1 win at Minute Maid Park.
"That's a pitch I wanted to throw," said Keuchel, who dropped to 3-8 with the loss. "Either I'm tipping or they're getting signs from [catcher Max Stassi] or something because [Seager] doesn't normally do that. You've got to tip your cap to him because it's a Major League swing.
"I felt like there was no way seven runs were on the board with the way I felt. I know what 3-8 feels and it doesn't feel like this. It's tough, but at the end of the day, I want to help the guys out. It's just the way it's going. We'll continue to battle and it will turn around sooner."
Seager's homer came on a pitch he rarely swings at and was to the opposite field, which is also rare territory for him. Keuchel went 6 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs and seven hits to lose for the third time in four starts, but he retired 19 of 23 batters after giving up six runs the first time through the order.
"I thought he settled in pretty well as the game went on and got a little bit better, but that was a big hole," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
Mariners starter James Paxton (5-1) held the Astros to one run and nine hits in 7 2/3 innings as Seattle won its fifth consecutive game to open up a two-game lead in the American League West over the Astros, who have lost three in a row and seven of their last 10.
The first-inning has been an issue all season for Keuchel, who opened the game by allowing singles to Dee Gordon and Jean Segura. Mitch Haniger scored Gordon when he beat out a potential double-play grounder, and Nelson Cruz reached on an infield hit. Seager's three-run homer made it 4-0 and snapped his 0-for-18 drought against the Astros.
"That's kind of how it's been going," Keuchel said. "I haven't gotten off to the best start in the first inning, but it's just frustrating and disappointing. You try to limit the damage and get the team back in there in the top of the first so we can swing the sticks against a quality pitcher, but that's just the way the ball's been going so far."
Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer in the second to make it 6-0, and Keuchel sent down 10 batters in a row before Segura took him deep in the the fifth for a 7-1 lead.
Marwin Gonzalez went 3-for-4, including an RBI double in the second inning, and finished a homer shy of the cycle. His double was the only hit the Astros had in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Keuchel is the first Astros starter to allow at least seven runs in a game while pitching at least 6 2/3 innings since Wandy Rodriguez on June 26, 2006, at Detroit.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Seager's first-inning homer was hit at 95 mph and with a 29-degree launch angle, according to Statcast™, giving it only a 9 percent hit probability.
HE SAID IT
"I got lucky on that one, but I'd like to have Cruz's ball back. I'd rather Healy's ball go up the middle and get Cruz out for the double play." -- Keuchel, a three-time AL Gold Glove Award winner, said of snagging a 105-mph line drive off the bat of Ryon Healy in the third but not being able to field a Nelson Cruz weak chopper in the first inning