Astros edge Mariners for 10th straight victory
HOUSTON -- Designated hitter Evan Gattis clobbered two home runs Sunday afternoon, including a tiebreaking shot into the Crawford Boxes in the eighth inning, to send the Astros to their 10th consecutive win, 7-6, and complete a four-game sweep of the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
"It's been the most fun personally I've ever had on a team, and I think we might have something special," Gattis said.
At 18-7, the Astros are off to their best start through 25 games in franchise history and have their longest winning streak since a franchise-record 12 games in a row Aug. 27-Sept. 8, 2004. They've won 14 of their past 15 games.
"It's fun to win games and we're playing against good teams, which should show our guys that it matters how well we play," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We've played cleaner games than today, but for us to come out and play good baseball for an extended period of time, it gives these guys a lot of experience.
Behind a three-run homer by Gattis in the first and a two-run shot by Chris Carter in the third off J.A. Happ, the Astros built an early 6-1 lead, only to watch the Mariners rally. Seattle took advantage of an error by Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to score in the sixth and added four runs in the seventh to tie the game, including a two-run, pinch-hit double by Rickie Weeks.
Gattis' game-winner came off Mariners rookie Carson Smith, who hadn't allowed a run in the first 20 appearances of his career. Seattle fell to 10-15 and suffered its first series sweep at Houston since 2007.
"They're a good hitting team," said Smith, who hung a slider. "They've showed that this series and they've showed it all year. You can't make those mistakes late in the game and I'll learn from it and move forward."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gattis goes deep twice to stay hot: Gattis hit a pair of line drives into the Crawford Boxes in left field for his fourth career multi-homer game, giving him four homers in his last three games and six for the season. He hit a three-run blast in the first and broke a 6-6 tie with a solo shot in the eighth.In his past nine games, Gattis is 11-for-31 (.355) with five homers and 16 RBIs. He has 10 RBIs in his past four games. More >
Both of Gattis' homers were lasers, and Statcast has the data to prove it. The first had an exit velocity of 109 mph and a launch angle 18 degrees, while the second blast came in at 108 mph and 15 degrees, respectively. For comparison, Carter's 420-foot, two-run moonshot in the third inning had a launch angle of 28 degrees and an exit velocity of 102 mph.
"He's come up with some big hits in the last stretch he's been in," Hinch said. "Man, he hits the ball hard, and when he hits the ball hard good things happen."
Triple threat: The Mariners managed their first two runs off Roberto Hernandez via three-baggers. Brad Miller tripled home Dustin Ackley in the third with a shot down the right-field line. And Seth Smith drove a ball to deep center that just eluded the glove of Jake Marisnick in the sixth and rolled up the hill at Minute Maid Park. Smith chugged into third on the play, then was awarded home as the relay throw by shortstop Gonzalez wound up in Seattle's dugout.
Tying run comes gift-wrapped: Another costly error on the Astros capped a four-run Mariners rally in the seventh as Seattle overcame an early 6-1 deficit to tie the game. After Weeks pulled the Mariners within a run with a two-run pinch-hit double, Weeks appeared to be easily caught stealing with one out and Justin Ruggiano at the plate. But catcher Jason Castro's throw glanced off the glove of third baseman Jonathan Villar and rolled down the left-field line as Weeks -- who had pulled up short of third -- kicked back into gear and raced home for the equalizer.
Astros' defense betrays them: Infield defense had been one of the Astros' bright spots before Sunday, but errors by shortstop Gonzalez and third baseman Villar loomed large. Gonzalez threw a ball away in the sixth to lead to a run, and Villar dropped a throw at third after Weeks had been caught between second and third base, allowing Weeks to score the tying run in the seventh. More >
"There were a couple there we certainly gave them a little more opportunity to get back into, but we've been playing so well I'm not going to overreact to a couple of tough innings," Hinch said.
"It's pretty cool considering the struggles we've had the last couple of years. I'm just excited to be where we are right now." -- Carter, on the team's hot start
"They're a hot team right now. They have a lot of confidence and they have some momentum. When you have that, things seem to go your way. We didn't make a couple pitches here and there and they capitalized. That's what teams do when they're going good. Hopefully we can put this one behind us and have a good series starting tomorrow." -- Mariners catcher Mike Zunino
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After allowing just 14 home runs in April -- the lowest total in the American League -- Seattle's pitchers gave up 11 home runs in the first three days of May to the hot-hitting Astros.
Hinch successfully challenged a call at the plate in the third, taking away a run for the Mariners. Seattle shortstop Miller tried to score from third base on a fly ball to right field by Smith, and he was initially called safe after sliding past the tag of Astros catcher Castro following a throw from right fielder George Springer. Hinch challenged the call, which was overturned. More >
Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson sprained his ankle when he hit the corner of the first-base bag running out an infield grounder in the third inning. Jackson was replaced by Ruggiano and will have the ankle re-evaluated Monday when the club gets to Anaheim. More >
Mariners: Felix Hernandez will be gunning for the first 5-0 start in his 11-year career when Seattle opens a three-game set at Anaheim at 7:05 p.m. PT on Monday. Hernandez held the Halos to one run and two hit in seven innings in an Opening Day win. He's 12-13 with a 3.47 ERA in 41 career starts against Anaheim.
Astros: Ace Dallas Keuchel will take the mound at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday against the Rangers to open a three-game series at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel (3-0, 0.73 ERA) has thrown 12 consecutive quality starts since last August, going 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA in that span. He has the lowest ERA through five starts by any Astros pitcher.
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