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Grand slam happy Astros extend win streak to 7

@DKramer_
April 13, 2019

SEATTLE -- The Astros did what they always do on Friday: They patiently waited for the precise moment to pounce. José Altuve launched a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning -- one of two grand slams Houston hit in the game -- that jump-started the Astros to a 10-6

SEATTLE -- The Astros did what they always do on Friday: They patiently waited for the precise moment to pounce.

José Altuve launched a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning -- one of two grand slams Houston hit in the game -- that jump-started the Astros to a 10-6 victory over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. The win extended their win streak to seven games and was yet another benchmark on Altuve’s milestone week. The former American League MVP Award winner has been perhaps the hottest player in baseball this week, and his grand slam was his first since he took Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly deep in Boston on Aug. 17, 2014.

“I’m kind of, like, starting my swing right now to find out what I’m doing, that I’m having success, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Altuve said. “I just go in there and I’m not even looking for one pitch. I’m just looking for something I can put in play, and it’s been working pretty good for me.”

But it was Houston’s collective product -- headlined by Altuve -- that gave first-place Seattle a proverbial taste of its own medicine.

The Astros were trailing, 3-2, and had struggled to manufacture production in its run-producing opportunities when Altuve stepped into the box. But after Dee Gordon dropped a would-be lineout by George Springer, Robinson Chirinos then narrowly advanced to third after a replay overturned a call that initially ruled him out to set up Altuve’s slam, which he lifted on a hanging, first-pitch slider.

Yuli Gurriel joined the barrage in the eighth when he launched his fourth career grand slam off R.J. Alaniz, which marked just the third time in club history with two grand slams in the same game. The Astros also accomplished the feat on June 8, 2014 against the Twins (Jon Singleton and Chris Carter) and July 30, 1969 (Denis Menke and Jim Wynn).

“We’re opportunistic when you give us an extra base or give us an extra strike, or, you know, we get an opportunity to do some damage,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We have a pretty good idea of our offensive identity. We can do damage when you mis-locate.”

The Mariners entered Friday with an MLB-best 13 wins in their first 15 games, during which they homered in each, and after laboring Astros starter Wade Miley to 41 pitches in the first (the second-most in any first inning of his 215 career starts), Seattle was riding a 3-0 lead through two.

Miley settled in to finish four innings and recorded his 19th straight start with three runs or fewer. He once again turned to the cutter that’s blossomed into his true plus pitch and located it well, but he found himself in three three-ball counts in the first that spiked his pitch tally.

“They fouled everything I threw off,” Miley said. “It was just like they were getting a piece of it.”

Miley gave up just the one first-inning run, and the Astros got through the final five frames with a combination of Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski and Roberto Osuna, who threw just one pitch to pop out Edwin Encarnacion and end the game.

With three off-days during their 10-day road trip, the club opted to move Peacock to the bullpen as a long reliever, thus creating more depth and versatility for instances such as Friday, when Miley went four frames or less for just the fourth time in his last 20 starts.

The slider-heavy Peacock struck out seven over 3 1/3 innings, on a night he felt his fastball was his better pitch.

“We’ve got guys that can do [their part in] whatever situation that they’re asked,” Peacock said. “It’s pretty special. I don’t think you get that everywhere. It’s fun to be a part of.”

Houston was also without All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (right hamstring) for the second straight game, yet it churned out a season-high 16 hits. And for it being their ninth win of 2019, Friday’s was the Astros’ sixth coming from behind.

All of this is to preclude why Friday offered a reminder that the Astros feel they are still the class of the American League West.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.