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Cole sharp again; Astros' 6-run 7th seals win

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- That explosive offense that almost everyone expects of the Astros finally showed up Wednesday night. It was a one-inning volcano eruption. A six-run seventh inning when Houston sent 11 hitters to the plate ended a pitching duel and propelled the Astros to a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

"We're a good offense, don't forget that,'' Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It was coming and there's more to come. As the game went on our at-bats got better and better, which is encouraging. I don't think we can allow a rough patch to get in the way of the reality that we're a really good hitting club."

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SEATTLE -- That explosive offense that almost everyone expects of the Astros finally showed up Wednesday night. It was a one-inning volcano eruption. A six-run seventh inning when Houston sent 11 hitters to the plate ended a pitching duel and propelled the Astros to a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

"We're a good offense, don't forget that,'' Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It was coming and there's more to come. As the game went on our at-bats got better and better, which is encouraging. I don't think we can allow a rough patch to get in the way of the reality that we're a really good hitting club."

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Video: HOU@SEA: Springer plates two with double off the wall

Only twice in the previous 12 games had the Astros scored more than four runs. They scored three runs or fewer in eight of those games. And they scored only one run the first six innings Wednesday off Seattle starter Mike Leake (2-1) before the breakout inning in the seventh, which is the most runs Houston has scored in an inning this season.

Video: HOU@SEA: Hinch on hot offense in Astros' 7-1 win

It included six hits (with three doubles) and a walk. Houston (12-7) also scored a run off an error by Seattle right fielder Mitch Haniger.

Hinch felt it all happened because of a stellar defensive play by left fielder Derek Fisher in the bottom of the fifth. Fisher robbed Seattle shortstop Jean Segura of a home run with a catch at the top of the wall to end the inning and keep the game tied at 1-1.

"It was a big momentum play with the way the game was going,'' Hinch said. "Everybody exhales and then we come back and score a lot of runs. So it obviously was a turning point."

Fisher kept backing up on the towering fly ball and managed to leap and grab it at the last second.

"I was just trying to read how it was going to go back,'' Fisher said. "It was a hard one to gauge on whether to jump or not jump. Fortunately, I caught it."

It was one of two runs the Mariners didn't score because of the Houston defense. Right fielder Josh Reddick threw out Ben Gamel at the plate in the second inning.

Stellar defense helped Astros starter Gerrit Cole (2-0) win the game on a night when he wasn't the dominating pitcher he had been in his first three starts this season, posting 36 strikeouts in 21 innings. Trying to become the first pitcher in Major League history to open a season with four games of double-digit strikeouts, Cole finished with five. He allowed only one run (unearned) in seven innings.

Video: HOU@SEA: Cole allows five hits, no earned runs

"He didn't have his best stuff tonight, but that's the sign of a great pitcher,'' said Astros catcher Brian McCann, who had two doubles. "Gerrit is as good as they come. When you look at your season overall, you probably have your 'A' stuff six or seven times. It's the other starts that make or break your season. I thought he pitched phenomenal tonight."

Cole felt he pitched better as the game progressed.

"I started making better pitch selections,'' he said. "But there were a couple of times early where I didn't execute my pitches. I had to rely on the defense to make some great plays."

Even on a so-so night, the Astros' starting pitching is going to keep the team in the game most of the time. And the offense is going to have moments like the seventh inning Wednesday night when it was unstoppable. The Astros finished with 12 hits and six doubles.

"We've been battling out there,'' Fisher said. "But we put some good swings together and hit some balls hard tonight and they're starting to fall for us."

Video: HOU@SEA: Gonzalez hits go-ahead two-run single in 7th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Reddick's great throw kept the Mariners from tying the game in the bottom of the second. Cole walked Ben Gamel and Daniel Vogelbach with two outs before Seattle catcher David Freitas stroked a one-hop single to right, but Reddick made a perfect throw to McCann to cut down Gamel at the plate.

Video: HOU@SEA: Reddick cuts down Gamel at the plate in 2nd

SOUND SMART
Outfielder George Springer, who now has played in 502 MLB games, has 103 career home runs. It's the second-best total in franchise history for a player's first 500 games. Lance Berkman had 107 homers in his first 500 games.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With the Astros and Mariners tied at 1 in the fifth inning, Fisher kept the Mariners from taking the lead when he reached over the wall to rob Segura of a home run.

Video: HOU@SEA: Fisher robs Segura of a home run in left

Segura launched a towering fly off Cole that appeared headed for the Astros bullpen past the outfield wall, but Fisher timed his leap perfectly and made the catch right over the top of the wall to end the inning.

HE SAID IT
"That's the most casual rob of a home run I've ever seen in my career. He was either surprised or as cool as anyone can imagine.'' -- Hinch said of Fisher's over-the-wall catch of a would-be homer by Segura in the fifth inning.

UP NEXT
The Astros close out the four-game series in Seattle with a day game against the Mariners on Thursday, starting at 2:40 CT. Charlie Morton (2-0, 1.00) faces Marco Gonzales (1-1, 8.25). The Astros are 5-2 in day games this season. The team will fly to Chicago for a three-game series with the White Sox starting Friday night when Justin Verlander (2-0, 1.35) makes his fifth start of the season. James Shields (1-1, 4.50) was scheduled to start for Chicago, but the White Sox needed him in the 14th inning of Wednesday's loss at Oakland.

Terry Blount is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros

Derek Fisher made a casual home run robbery, and the Astros bullpen provided the hype

It is often the case that it is easier for one to achieve greatness than to celebrate that accomplishment. That's as true of professional baseball players as of office workers.

During the fifth inning of Wednesday's Astros-Mariners game, Mariners shortstop Jean Segura hit a fly ball to deep left field that looked like it might break the 1-1 tie. Not with Derek Fisher on the case. The Astros' left fielder went back to the wall and made perhaps the most casual home run robbery you'll ever see to preserve the tie. He barely even left his feet:

McCann catching after getting hit on knuckles

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Brian McCann was back behind the plate Wednesday night, sore knuckles and all. The Astros catcher was hit on the knuckles of his right hand Tuesday night in the eighth inning by a pitch from Seattle reliever Wade LeBlanc. McCann remained in the game and felt good enough Wednesday to get back in the starting lineup.

"I was hoping for the best,'' McCann said. "When you get hit and your hand goes numb, your mind immediately goes to the negative, but it's fine. It's bruised and a little sore, but it's nothing that will keep me from being productive."

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SEATTLE -- Brian McCann was back behind the plate Wednesday night, sore knuckles and all. The Astros catcher was hit on the knuckles of his right hand Tuesday night in the eighth inning by a pitch from Seattle reliever Wade LeBlanc. McCann remained in the game and felt good enough Wednesday to get back in the starting lineup.

"I was hoping for the best,'' McCann said. "When you get hit and your hand goes numb, your mind immediately goes to the negative, but it's fine. It's bruised and a little sore, but it's nothing that will keep me from being productive."

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McCann is off to quite a productive start this season, hitting .333, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning Tuesday night that broke a 1-1 tie in the Astros' 4-1 victory.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCann crushes a go-ahead two-run home run

It's part of a change in mechanics at the plate for the 14-year veteran.

"I don't want to say he's had to reinvent himself,'' Astros manager AJ Hinch said about McCann. "But he's changed his bat path a little bit to be a touch flatter through the zone a little bit longer. As an older player [34], he's having to make some adjustments to maintain his offensive prowess. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?"

So is McCann going counter to the MLB trend of swinging to hit more fly balls?

"Oh, he's still swinging up,'' Hinch said. "Don't kid yourself. He's still participating in the launch-angle lovefest."

McCann had a horrible Spring Training, hitting only .069 with two hits in 29 at-bats.

"I couldn't care less about Spring Training stats,'' McCann said. "Spring for me is a time to work on things, and I knew I was going to stick to a process. I knew I was on the right track. When the lights turn on [for the regular season], you're playing a different game."

Record strikeouts

By posting 11 strikeouts Tuesday night, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. gave Houston its seventh double-digit strikeout total of the season, the most in MLB history through the first 18 games. The 1966 Cleveland Indians and 1973 California Angels did it six times in the first 18 games of those seasons.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCullers Jr. strikes out Seager for 11th K

Hinch really isn't surprised with his staff's strikeout abilities.

"When you look at the names that start the games for us, it's pretty impressive,'' Hinch said. "I don't know that you ever expect record-setting things or double-digit strikeouts like we've done, but I know we have an elite starting pitcher every night, so that helps. And the bullpen is coming in and punching guys out, too.

"We are a difficult team for the opposing offenses to match up with because of the different [pitching] styles we have. They have the ability to miss bats with multiple pitches. Those are good traits to have as a pitching staff."

Day off for Bregman

Marwin Gonzalez started at third base Wednesday, the first time Alex Bregman hasn't started at third this season.

"He's been grinding and I wanted to give him a chance to reboot,'' Hinch said of Bregman, who is hitting .214 with one home run and four RBIs. "I'm going to start giving some of our starters a break here and there. Alex will be back out there [Thursday]."

Worth noting

The Astros activated left-handed reliever Tony Sipp from the 10-day disabled list (right oblique strain) following Tuesday night's game and optioned right-handed reliever James Hoyt to Triple-A Fresno. Sipp has allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings this season.

Terry Blount is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Brian McCann

McCullers' 11-K gem gets Astros off the mat

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Lance McCullers Jr. once again proved too much for the Mariners and, in doing so, helped pull the Astros out of a three-game skid with in a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night at Safeco Field.

Oh, and the Astros finally got a clutch hit when Brian McCann broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning by hitting a two-run homer off Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla after Houston stranded eight runners over five innings against starter Ariel Miranda.

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SEATTLE -- Lance McCullers Jr. once again proved too much for the Mariners and, in doing so, helped pull the Astros out of a three-game skid with in a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night at Safeco Field.

Oh, and the Astros finally got a clutch hit when Brian McCann broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning by hitting a two-run homer off Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla after Houston stranded eight runners over five innings against starter Ariel Miranda.

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But this was about McCullers, who retired 19 of 20 batters after yielding a two-out homer in the first inning to Robinson Cano. McCullers struck out 11 and walked one before relievers Will Harris and Chris Devenski closed out the victory.

Video: HOU@SEA: Devenski gets a double play to earn the save

"[McCullers] was a real pitcher tonight who got outs in different ways," manager AJ Hinch said. "We know he can do it. He does it a lot. It was very encouraging to see him go up against a lineup where you have to create some of your own outs."

It was a strong bounce-back effort after McCullers allowed a career-high eight runs over four innings at Minnesota in his previous start -- and he pointed to his catcher, McCann, as a major factor in the turnaround.

"Mac and I talked a lot this week," McCullers said. "He gave me a lot of encouragement, a lot of motivation to stick to the grind and make the adjustments that I need to make."

The result in McCann's words: "Filthy. … When he's getting that movement with his breaking ball, he's tough to hit. He had total control of what he was doing tonight."

It probably didn't hurt that McCullers (2-1) was facing the Mariners, whom he has beaten for six of his 21 career victories.

"We all know he's a guy that spins the ball pretty good," Cano said. "He's a guy that knows how to pitch and has one of the best curveballs in the game."

Video: HOU@SEA: Cano crushes his first home run of 2018

Even Cano's homer came on a pretty good pitch, an 0-2 curve down and in that was nearly in the dirt.

"That's Robby, man," McCullers said. "I wanted to bury it, and I think if it had been in the dirt, he may have taken it or swung and missed. But that's what makes him so great. He didn't really swing at that ball, and he hit it like 400-some feet."

The Astros wasted strong starts over the two previous games from Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel and appeared poised to stumble again after squandering a bushel of opportunities against Miranda.

That changed in the sixth against Altavilla (1-2) after Evan Gattis led off. McCann followed with his first homer of the year.

"It was a breath of fresh air for us," Hinch said. "We felt like we needed a big hit at some point to just separate ourselves. It's amazing what a two-run lead feels like."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
First of the year: McCann's homer was a no-doubt drive to right on a 98-mph fastball from Altavilla. It was McCann's first homer since his final regular-season at-bat of 2017 -- Sept. 30 against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCann crushes a go-ahead two-run home run

HE SAID IT
"It's fine. X-rays are negative. When it first got hit, it hurt. You just hope for the best, and I got great news. -- McCann, on coming away OK after getting hit in his right hand by a pitch from Wade LeBlanc in the eighth inning

Video: HOU@SEA: McCann hit by pitch on his hand, stays in

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve played in his 1,000th career game and collected his 1,272nd career hit with a single in the third inning. The only foreign-born player with more hits in his first 1,000 games is Ichiro, who had 1,414.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Gerrit Cole, who set an MLB record with 36 strikeouts in his first three starts with a team, will look to continue the strong start to his Astros career when he makes his first appearance at Safeco Field at 9:10 CT on Wednesday night. His only previous outing against Seattle came in 2016, when he gave up one run in a complete-game victory while pitching for the Pirates. The Astros will face Mariners right-hander Mike Leake for the first time since 2013, when he was with the Reds.

Bob Dutton is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr., Brian McCann

Astros option Hoyt ahead of Sipp's return

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The Astros optioned right-handed pitcher James Hoyt to Triple-A Fresno after Tuesday night's 4-1 victory over the Mariners in anticipation of activating lefty reliever Tony Sipp from the disabled list prior to Wednesday's game.

"A tough team to crack for James," manager AJ Hinch said. "He really deserves to be here."

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SEATTLE -- The Astros optioned right-handed pitcher James Hoyt to Triple-A Fresno after Tuesday night's 4-1 victory over the Mariners in anticipation of activating lefty reliever Tony Sipp from the disabled list prior to Wednesday's game.

"A tough team to crack for James," manager AJ Hinch said. "He really deserves to be here."

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Sipp, 34, tested his recovery from a strained right oblique muscle Monday by throwing a bullpen workout. He was placed on the DL April 10 retroactive to April 8.

Hoyt, 31, gave up a hit and a walk over one-third of an inning in his only appearance following his April 10 recall from Fresno.

Bob Dutton is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, James Hoyt, Tony Sipp

Astros offer condolences to Bush family

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The Astros lost one of their highest-profile fans Tuesday when former First Lady Barbara Bush, 92, died at her home in Houston.

Mrs. Bush was the wife of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President.

SEATTLE -- The Astros lost one of their highest-profile fans Tuesday when former First Lady Barbara Bush, 92, died at her home in Houston.

Mrs. Bush was the wife of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President.

A statement released Sunday through her husband's office said Mrs. Bush was in failing health and had "decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care."

The Astros reacted to the news of Mrs. Bush's death by issuing a statement from Reid Ryan, their president of business operations:

"Today is a very sad day for our city and for our entire nation. As First Lady, Mrs. Bush epitomized grace, dignity and strength. As a humanitarian, she impacted the lives of so many young people through the work of her Foundation for literacy and more.

"As Houstonians and frequent visitors to Minute Maid Park to watch their beloved Astros, we had the great privilege of getting to know Mrs. Bush and President Bush personally. While at the ballpark, both always greeted everyone from the ticket-takers to the ushers with a warm, friendly smile.

"On behalf of the Houston Astros, I send my heartfelt condolences to the entire Bush family and to Mrs. Bush's many friends and admirers."

Bob Dutton is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros

Altuve humbled by 1,000-game benchmark

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The top items on Jose Altuve's professional resume include World Series champion, American League Most Valuable Player, five-time All-Star and three-time batting champion.

Now the Astros' second baseman is poised to add another achievement.

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SEATTLE -- The top items on Jose Altuve's professional resume include World Series champion, American League Most Valuable Player, five-time All-Star and three-time batting champion.

Now the Astros' second baseman is poised to add another achievement.

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Barring something unexpected, Altuve will play in his 1,000th career game Tuesday when the Astros continue their four-game series against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

"I didn't know that," Altuve said, "but thanks to God for the opportunity to be part of that club. To have 1,000 games in the big leagues means a lot to me. Hopefully, I can play many more."

Altuve, 27, is in his eighth season with the Astros, and since he is under contract through 2024, he figures to be working his way up numerous lists in the franchise record book before he's done.

"His entire resume is still incomplete," manager AJ Hinch said. "He's getting better. If the next 1,000 games are equal to or better than the first 1,000 games, we have one of the best players in the game."

Altuve ranks 20th in games played in franchise history. If he stays healthy, he should climb to 13th by the end of the season. Next up is third baseman Bob Aspromonte, who played in 1,007 games from 1962-68.

Two Hall of Fame players top the franchise's all-time list: second baseman Craig Biggio with 2,850 games from 1988-2007, and first baseman Jeff Bagwell with 2,150 from 1991-2005.

"It's really hard to stay in the big leagues with so much talent around," Altuve said. "It's an honor to reach 1,000 games."

Sipp on the mend
Lefty reliever Tony Sipp tested his recovery from a strained right oblique by throwing a bullpen workout prior to Monday's series opener against the Mariners.

"All things are going good," Hinch said. "He's eligible to come off [the disabled list] on Wednesday. We're going to meet as a staff and see if he needs to have an outing in the Minors or whether he will be activated right away."

Sipp, 34, experienced soreness in his right oblique after an April 6 outing against the Padres. He was placed on the DL retroactive to April 8. He gave up one run and two hits over 2 1/3 innings in two appearances prior to the injury.

Bob Dutton is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve

Verlander, Scherzer win Players of the Week

MLB.com

Dominant pitching performances by the Astros' Justin Verlander and the Nationals' Max Scherzer over the weekend helped seal the pair's claim to Player of the Week presented by W.B. Mason honors on Monday.

In the American League, Verlander wrapped the week by striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit -- a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos -- in eight innings against the Rangers. He took a no-decision, however, as the Astros scored only one run in the 3-1 defeat. He became the first Houston pitcher to strike out at least 11 batters while giving up no more than one hit and without issuing a walk.

Dominant pitching performances by the Astros' Justin Verlander and the Nationals' Max Scherzer over the weekend helped seal the pair's claim to Player of the Week presented by W.B. Mason honors on Monday.

In the American League, Verlander wrapped the week by striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit -- a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos -- in eight innings against the Rangers. He took a no-decision, however, as the Astros scored only one run in the 3-1 defeat. He became the first Houston pitcher to strike out at least 11 batters while giving up no more than one hit and without issuing a walk.

"That was a good performance by J.V. with no margin for error, literally," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.

Verlander's Sunday performance followed up seven scoreless innings and nine strikeouts against the Twins on Monday. He allowed just four hits and walked one in the 2-0 Astros victory.

Scherzer, meanwhile, was recognized in the National League for his own pair of stellar outings. He tossed a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts against the Braves at Nationals Park on Monday, then held the Rockies to two runs and struck out 11 batters in seven innings Saturday.

Past winners: AL | NL

In the first outing, Scherzer also stole the first base of his career. He joined the Astros' Nolan Ryan (on May 16, 1984) as the only pitchers to pitch a shutout, strike out 10 or more batters and steal a base in the same game.

"I mean, that's a guy, that's a player," Nats catcher Pedro Severino said. "He's awesome. He can pitch. He can hit now. He can steal second, too."

The only two runs Scherzer allowed last week came on a home run by Charlie Blackmon in the first inning Saturday. That would be the last hit Scherzer allowed in the game as he retired the next 20 batters he faced to finish off his third double-digit strikeout performance of the year. He's only the 13th pitcher in MLB history with at least 10 strikeouts in three of his team's first 15 games.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander

Springer HR, Keuchel CG aren't enough vs. M's

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- It started with a boom Monday for the Astros but ended with a whimper in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

George Springer opened the game with his 21st career leadoff homer, crushing a 96-mph 3-1 fastball from lefty James Paxton 455 feet to right-center. It was his third-longest homer since Statcast™ began tracking data in 2015. Springer, who set a club record with nine leadoff homers last season, has three this year, four homers overall.

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SEATTLE -- It started with a boom Monday for the Astros but ended with a whimper in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

George Springer opened the game with his 21st career leadoff homer, crushing a 96-mph 3-1 fastball from lefty James Paxton 455 feet to right-center. It was his third-longest homer since Statcast™ began tracking data in 2015. Springer, who set a club record with nine leadoff homers last season, has three this year, four homers overall.

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"He's tough," Springer said of Paxton. "He throws hard. He has great angle on his ball. It's one of those things where I'm just looking for something to hit and, hopefully, I don't miss it. Obviously, it felt good off the bat."

But that was it.

The Astros managed just two more hits against Paxton and none against a relay of three Mariners relievers as they wasted a stellar complete game from Dallas Keuchel (0-3) and lost for the fifth time in six games.

Video: HOU@SEA: Keuchel hurls complete game in tough loss

"That's how it's been the last couple of days," said manager AJ Hinch, who saw Justin Verlander allow one hit over eight innings in an Astros loss on Sunday. "We just have no margin for error, but our starter keeps giving us plenty of opportunities. If we keep doing that, we're going to be happy with it."

The Mariners made it a 1-1 game when Nelson Cruz golfed a two-out changeup from Keuchel over the left-field wall in the fourth inning. It was Cruz's third homer of the season and first since returning from the disabled list on Saturday.

"It was definitely down," Keuchel said. "I would have liked to have it a little more outside. If I'm going to throw it middle down, I'm going to have it coming into him. It just so happened that it didn't break back as much as I would like.

"That's a credit to him. That's a good pitch."

Video: HOU@SEA: Cruz sneaks home run over left-field wall

The winning run was even tougher for Keuchel to take.

David Freitas opened the sixth inning by floating a double into the left-field corner before Dee Gordon sent a soft flare into right. Springer slipped as he chased after the ball, which resulted in an RBI double.

"Dee wasn't trying to do too much with the ball," Keuchel said. "I felt we were playing pretty deep on him. If I make a mistake, and he hits it over somebody's head, then I'm fine with that. That was just bad luck."

Video: HOU@SEA: Gordon drops an RBI double into right-center

Springer appeared to have a play on the ball before he slipped.

"I'd like to think I could [catch] it," he said. "And if I don't, I make sure the ball stays in front, and I hold [Freitas] to third. It's frustrating, but it is what it is."

It was enough for Paxton and the Mariners. Paxton worked the first six innings before Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio and Edwin Diaz each delivered an inning of hitless relief. Diaz walked Carlos Correa leading off the ninth, and Correa stole second base, but Diaz stranded him and got his seventh save in seven chances.

Video: HOU@SEA: Diaz strikes out Gonzalez, picks up save

"Anytime you think you had good quality at-bats," Springer said, "it becomes frustrating. But that's the game. You just have to stick it out and get out of the slump."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Haniger hauls one in: Mitch Haniger has carried a big bat this season with a Mariners-leading 15 RBIs, but the right fielder delivered with his glove in the sixth inning to help preserve Paxton's one-run outing. With Correa on first and one out, Haniger raced into the gap in right-center to haul in a line drive by Yuli Gurriel on a play rated a 5-star catch by Statcast™, it's highest ranking, with just a 25 percent catch probability. Haniger covered 75 feet in 4.5 seconds for just the second 5-star catch of his career, the other coming in 2016 with the D-backs.

Video: HOU@SEA: Statcast™ measures Haniger's five-star grab

Two-part web gem: Shortstop Correa and first baseman Gurriel teamed up for a slick defensive play on Guillermo Heredia's leadoff grounder to deep short in the third inning. Correa ranged to his right and made a strong throw, but it pulled Gurriel away from first base. Gurriel quickly shifted his feet to catch the ball and made a nice sweeping tag to retire Heredia.

Video: HOU@SEA: Correa makes defensive stop from his knees

Mitel Replay of the Day
A replay review in the fifth inning validated a spectacular play by Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager on a slow two-out chopper by Alex Bregman with a runner on first. Seager barehanded the ball and made a strong throw to first that umpire Sean Barber ruled beat Bregman. The Astros challenged, but the call would stand.

Video: HOU@SEA: Seager nabs Bregman, call stands

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The loss dropped the Astros behind the Mariners and into third place in the American League West. The Astros are also 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Angels. A year ago, they never dropped lower than second and were never more than 1 1/2 games out of first.

WHAT'S NEXT?
It projects as a good matchup for right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. when the Astros' series with the Mariners continues at 9:10 CT Tuesday night at Safeco Field. Five of his 20 career victories have come against the Mariners, who are expected to start lefty Ariel Miranda after recalling him from Triple-A Tacoma.

Bob Dutton is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel, George Springer

Astros, Rangers celebrate Jackie's legacy

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- No Astros or Rangers player who took the field at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night had the opportunity to watch Jackie Robinson play in person, but his impact on the game of baseball is still remembered and appreciated in both clubhouses.

The Astros and Rangers joined the rest of the Major Leagues on Sunday in wearing the retired No. 42 Robinson wore when he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 while with the Dodgers.

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HOUSTON -- No Astros or Rangers player who took the field at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night had the opportunity to watch Jackie Robinson play in person, but his impact on the game of baseball is still remembered and appreciated in both clubhouses.

The Astros and Rangers joined the rest of the Major Leagues on Sunday in wearing the retired No. 42 Robinson wore when he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 while with the Dodgers.

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"It means a lot, not only to me, but to everybody here," Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara said. "I didn't have the chance to watch him play, but what I heard from everybody talking about him, it is an honor to wear that number."

Where it began: Jackie celebrated in NYC, beyond

As has been tradition each April 15 since 2009, MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing Jackie's iconic No. 42. For 2018, there will be additional on-field uniform elements, including a commemorative patch on all team caps and jersey sleeves, socks emblazoned with '42,' and a brand new lightweight hooded fleece for batting practice and dugout wear, also featuring the '42' logo. MLB will donate all proceeds from the sale of such items to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

"I was a kid, and mom and dad kind of explained it to me. And the older I get, the more knowledge you have," Astros outfielder George Springer said of Robinson. "We learned the struggles, the sacrifice, all the things that had to happen for him to be in that position and all the courage it took for him to do what he did was something. It's remarkable, in my opinion, to do what he did at that time period, and to get the recognition he and his family get today is deserved."

In honor of Robinson, the Astros hosted a pregame reception featuring Jackie Robinson scholars and alumni, former Astros players and several Houston community leaders. Judson Robinson, president and CEO of the Houston Area Urban League, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Additionally, members of the Astros Youth Academy took the field with the Astros players prior to the game.

"The opportunity he gave us to play in the big leagues, we all appreciate it," Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar said. "To wear the No. 42 is very cool. I watched the movie '42.' All the things that he went through for us to play the game is amazing."

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program provides four years of financial assistance and direct program services annually to 225 highly motivated students attending 100 colleges and universities across the country and has developed a mentoring curriculum to reach a broad range of college students beyond its core "JRF Scholars."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar, George Springer

Verlander's 11-K, 1-hit gem isn't enough

Astros fall to Rangers in 10th after Colon takes perfecto into 8th
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- The focus for most of the night was on 44-year-old Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon, who defied Father Time and carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the defending World Series champs. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn't about to take a back seat to anyone.

Verlander continued his terrific start to the season by striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit -- a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos in the third inning -- in eight innings in the Rangers' 3-1 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Verlander took a no-decision.

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HOUSTON -- The focus for most of the night was on 44-year-old Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon, who defied Father Time and carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the defending World Series champs. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn't about to take a back seat to anyone.

Verlander continued his terrific start to the season by striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit -- a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos in the third inning -- in eight innings in the Rangers' 3-1 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Verlander took a no-decision.

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"As the outing went on, he mixed in a few breaking balls here and there and was matching Colon pitch by pitch," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "He had the one breaking ball Chirinos hit out. We didn't really control Chirinos all night. That was a good performance by J.V. with no margin for error, literally."

Chirinos also hit a two-run double off relief pitcher Hector Rondon in the 10th inning to send the Rangers to their second consecutive win over the Astros in extra innings. The Astros were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, but didn't even get a baserunner until Carlos Correa led off the eighth with a walk. After Josh Reddick's double broke up the no-hitter, Correa scored on a Yuli Gurriel sac fly to tie the game.

Video: TEX@HOU: Chirinos cranks a two-run double in 10th

"Colon was perfect; Verlander was just short of perfect," Hinch said. "You're playing that game and doing as much as you can to stay in the game, thinking one baserunner is going to lead to two baserunners. There's a lot of talk about what he was doing against us, what our game plan was as the game was going on. That's about it."

Colon pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up one hit, one run, one walk and struck out seven. Verlander and Colon were the first opposing starting pitchers in the live-ball era to combine for at least 18 strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed.

"It's fun, but at the same time, you're hoping for some runs there," Verlander said. "I kind of go down in the tunnel to get away from the atmosphere and stuff and want to decompress, so you can see some of the pitches on the replay. He was painting, you know? It's like, 'What are you going to do?' You've got to tip your cap. He did an excellent job tonight of keeping our guys off balance and not giving anybody anything to hit."

Through four starts, Verlander has been as dominant as he was last season with the Astros. He's struck out 34 batters in 26 2/3 innings with a 1.35 ERA. But even when he's on his game, it wasn't enough for the Astros.

"You just keep pitching," he said. "I think you're with the understanding that if you give up another run, the game is probably over, and if you keep them there, you have a chance to win. That's my mentality. At one point, I thought of the old adage, 'Solo home runs don't kill you," and I was thinking one hit, a solo home run, was about to kill me. I was able to lock it down after that home run and execute my pitches and keep us in there."

Video: TEX@HOU: Hinch on missed opportunities in loss

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Reddick not only had the Astros' first hit of the game in the eighth inning, but he made a high-flying catch in right-center field in the seventh to rob Adrian Beltre of a hit. George Springer was converging on the ball from center field, but deferred to Reddick to make the catch without communication.

"I'm glad he backed off, and when I got up we both looked at each other and I tipped my hat for him for backing off," Reddick said. "We do so well out there without communicating, just picking up each other up and knowing where each other is at the same time. We have a pretty good idea, and once we realized I was the one going for it, he backed off and backed me up."

Video: TEX@HOU: Reddick lays out to rob Beltre of a hit

HE SAID IT
"It's about time to turn on the hitting machines on this clubhouse. There's a lot of guys here that can do a lot of damage and we haven't been able to do that, but we've been there where we start slow and pick up the pace. For us, that time is now." -- Correa, on the Astros' offense, which hit .210 as the team went 5-5 over the last 10 games

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Verlander has moved into sole possession of 39th place on baseball's all-time strikeout list with 2,450, passing Jamie Moyer (2,441) and Andy Pettitte (2,448).

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Astros send Dallas Keuchel (0-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound for Monday's 9:10 p.m. CT series opener against James Paxton and the Mariners at Safeco Field. Keuchel has yet to pitch longer than the six innings he worked in his season debut March 30 in Arlington. He threw five innings April 4 vs. the Orioles and four innings Tuesday against the Twins.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Josh Reddick, Hector Rondon, Justin Verlander

10 amazing facts from epic Colon-Verlander duel

MLB.com

With two former Cy Young Award winners taking the mound at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night, a pitching duel could have reasonably been expected between the Rangers and Astros. But in this case, two veteran right-handers were dueling, one of whom is 9 years older than the other.

Bartolo Colon and Justin Verlander combined to accomplish something on Sunday that hadn't been done since 1982, the year before Verlander was born. Colon was on a path toward history, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning before a Carlos Correa walk ended the perfect game bid, and a Josh Reddick double broke up the no-hitter. Colon would have become the oldest pitcher to throw either a perfect game or no-hitter in MLB history. While the Rangers would go on to win the game, 3-1, in 10 innings, this contest will be remembered most for the epic performances of the two starting pitchers, who combined to give up two runs on two hits over 15 innings.

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With two former Cy Young Award winners taking the mound at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night, a pitching duel could have reasonably been expected between the Rangers and Astros. But in this case, two veteran right-handers were dueling, one of whom is 9 years older than the other.

Bartolo Colon and Justin Verlander combined to accomplish something on Sunday that hadn't been done since 1982, the year before Verlander was born. Colon was on a path toward history, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning before a Carlos Correa walk ended the perfect game bid, and a Josh Reddick double broke up the no-hitter. Colon would have become the oldest pitcher to throw either a perfect game or no-hitter in MLB history. While the Rangers would go on to win the game, 3-1, in 10 innings, this contest will be remembered most for the epic performances of the two starting pitchers, who combined to give up two runs on two hits over 15 innings.

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Here are 10 facts to know about this amazing pitching duel:

• This was just the sixth game since at least 1908 in which both starting pitchers logged at least 7 2/3 innings without allowing more than one hit. The last time it happened was on Oct. 1, 1982, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, where the Mets' Terry Leach locked horns with the Phillies' John Denny. Leach gave up one hit over 10 shutout innings for the victory (though he walked six), while Denny gave up one hit in nine scoreless frames and wound up with a no-decision.

The list also includes Sandy Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965, at Dodger Stadium, where Chicago's Bob Hendley took a tough-luck loss by allowing one unearned run on one hit in an eight-inning complete game.

Video: TEX@HOU: Verlander K's 11, hurls eight one-hit frames

• Colon (44 years, 326 days) took a serious run at becoming the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game, or even a no-hitter. Randy Johnson is the oldest man to twirl a perfecto, as he was 40 years and 251 days old on May 18, 2004, when he pulled off the feat for the D-backs against the Braves.

Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Rangers when he threw his record seventh and final no-hitter against the Blue Jays on May 1, 1991. Ryan was 44 years and 90 days old at the time -- or 236 days younger than Colon was on Sunday. Ryan went on to pitch until age 46, throwing his final pitch in September 1993. That was three months after Colon signed as an amateur free agent with the Indians out of the Dominican Republic. In other words, Ryan and Colon have combined to be professional ballplayers all the way back to when Ryan was drafted by the Mets in 1965 (although Colon missed a year in 2010).

• While his age pales in comparison to Colon's, Verlander is no spring chicken himself (in baseball terms), having turned 35 on Feb. 20. That made this matchup the first time in recorded history that two starting pitchers age 35 or older both allowed no more than one hit in a game, regardless of innings pitched. There hadn't even been a game in which two age 35-plus starters allowed two hits or fewer and recorded at least one out by the seventh inning in more than 30 years. On Sept. 27, 1986, the Rangers' Charlie Hough (38) tossed a two-hit shutout to outduel Hall of Famer Don Sutton (41), who gave up two hits and a run in 7 1/3 innings for the Angels.

Video: TEX@HOU: Colon plays it cool during bid for perfecto

• Including the postseason, Verlander now has pitched in 15 games for the Astros, including 14 starts. The former longtime Tiger has been nothing short of sensational. Over 97 1/3 innings, Verlander has posted a 1.57 ERA, a 115-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .163 opponents batting average.

• Verlander became the first Astros pitcher since 1986 -- when Ryan did it twice and Mike Scott once -- to strike out at least 11 batters while giving up no more than one hit. However, Verlander is the first pitcher in franchise history to deliver that combination while also issuing no more than one walk.

• Colon became the oldest pitcher in MLB history to complete 7 2/3 innings in a game while giving up one hit or fewer. Ryan held the previous record with his no-hitter against the Blue Jays.

• Prior to Sunday night, Colon had thrown seven or more innings and allowed one hit three times in his 21-season career. The last came on April 16, 2017, when he gave up a solo home run to the Padres' Ryan Schimpf over seven innings for the Braves. The other two instances were on July 27, 2004, for the Angels against the Rangers (one hit over seven innings), and Sept. 18, 2000, for the Indians against the Yankees, when Colon took a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings before yielding a single to Luis Polonia. That ended up being a complete-game shutout for Colon.

• With his seven stellar innings against the Astros on Sunday, Colon lowered his season ERA to 1.45 (three earned runs in 18 2/3 innings) with 17 strikeouts and two walks in four appearances (two starts) for the Rangers, who signed him to a Minor League deal on March 26.

Video: TEX@HOU: Colon reacts quickly to knock down grounder

• According to Statcast™, only three batted balls (out of 17 total) against Colon on Sunday had a hit probability of 50 percent or greater -- a fourth-inning George Springer groundout (50 percent), a seventh-inning Jose Altuve lineout (52 percent) and Reddick's eighth-inning double (84 percent). Verlander also only had three batted balls of 50 percent or greater hit probability against him on Sunday (out of 12 total) -- an Adrian Beltre flyout in the second inning (86 percent), a Joey Gallo groundout in the second (57 percent) and Robinson Chirinos' third-inning homer (63 percent).

• Colon stands out not only for his age but for his repertoire. He followed his usual plan of attack on Sunday, throwing 83 fastballs (two-seamers and four-seamers) out of 96 total pitches, while mixing in a handful of changeups and sliders. That's a fastball usage rate of 86.5 percent, or slightly above his MLB-high mark of 82.9 percent since the beginning of 2017. As is always the case, Colon's barrage of heaters didn't come with high velocity. His two-seamer, which he threw 67 times, topped out at 90.4 mph, averaged 88.4 mph and came in as low as 84.6 mph.

Andrew Simon and Manny Randhawa are reporters for MLB.com.

Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander