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Two-homer nights for Seager, Nola go for naught

@gregjohnsmlb
September 6, 2019

HOUSTON -- Kyle Seager and Austin Nola each ripped a pair of home runs Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough to reverse the Mariners’ troubles at Minute Maid Park as the Astros pulled out an 11-9, 13-inning victory. Seattle dropped to 1-13 on the season against the American League West

HOUSTON -- Kyle Seager and Austin Nola each ripped a pair of home runs Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough to reverse the Mariners’ troubles at Minute Maid Park as the Astros pulled out an 11-9, 13-inning victory.

Seattle dropped to 1-13 on the season against the American League West leaders, including 0-7 in Houston, despite taking an early seven-run lead.

Michael Brantley ended the drama with a two-run walk-off homer off Matt Wisler, the Mariners’ ninth pitcher used in the four-hour, 40-minute marathon.

Box score

Seager’s second homer put the Mariners briefly back in front as he pushed a 340-foot opposite-field shot into the Crawford Boxes off reliever Josh James with one out in the top of the 12th. But the Astros battled back again on Kyle Tucker’s RBI single to extend the game to the 13th and wound up pulling out their biggest comeback of the season while improving to 91-50.

“That’s why they’ve been a championship team,” Seager said. “That’s why they are where they are and that’s kind of what they’ve done. It’s obviously a very good lineup. They grind. We were able to jump on a lead and they just keep battling, keep working. They chip and chip and chip and there’s not very much of a letdown from top to bottom there.”

The Mariners dropped to 58-83, but played the Astros tough while breaking out the bats after scoring just two runs in a pair of losses at Wrigley Field.

Seager also hit a two-run homer in the first and hiked his season total to 21 home runs, becoming the first Mariner in franchise history to hit 20-plus homers in eight straight seasons despite missing the first two months with a torn tendon in his left hand. The only other players to achieve that feat in the last eight years are Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Trout.

“That’s definitely something I’m extremely proud of,” Seager said. “I think everybody wants to be consistent. I’m very proud of that, especially this year with missing some time. That’s pretty cool.”

Nola also hit two long balls as he went 3-for-6 with five RBIs while batting third in a Mariners lineup that has undergone significant change since the start of the season.

Nola continues making the most of his opportunity as the 29-year-old rookie racked up a career high in RBIs with a two-run double in the first, a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the seventh. Though he’d slowed of late -- going 1-for-19 in the previous seven games -- Nola is batting .277 with nine homers and 23 RBIs in his first 60 games in the Majors.

“It’s unbelievable what he’s done,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “And right when you think he’s starting to take a little dip and slow down, he makes a really good adjustment. He works as hard as anybody we’ve got. He and Tom Murphy together outwork anybody in this league. They’re out early every day hitting, trying to make adjustments, and it pays off.”

Nola hit his first career homer at Minute Maid Park on June 5 and has since developed into a key player for the Mariners, able to play first and second base as well as catch when needed. He started at first on Thursday, then shifted behind the plate for the final three innings after Servais pinch-hit for Murphy in the 10th.

“He’s been awesome,” Seager said. “He’s been absolutely great, ever since he got called up. He puts together a professional at-bat day in and day out. And the defensive versatility, he’s been playing a really good first base and then goes back there tonight and did a nice job catching. He’s brought a lot to this team and it’s been awesome to watch him.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.