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King's welcome: Mariners get ace, rout Astros

June 23, 2017

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez returned from a two-month stint on the disabled list to beat the Astros on Friday night and he got plenty of help from his friends as the Mariners rolled to a 13-3 win in the series opener at Safeco Field.Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez returned from a two-month stint on the disabled list to beat the Astros on Friday night and he got plenty of help from his friends as the Mariners rolled to a 13-3 win in the series opener at Safeco Field.
Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager all homered and Danny Valencia went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs as Seattle (39-37) won its sixth straight. The Mariners have gone 19-10 since May 28, the best record in the American League in that span, and now have Hernandez back in their rotation.
"Everybody knows what kind of team the Astros have and the year they're putting together," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Now that our club is back and we're starting to get in a nice flow with our offense, it was nice to put some big innings up there tonight. You can go up and down the lineup and it's starting to be a different guy every night."
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman launched solo homers off Hernandez, but the six-time All-Star limited the Major League's best team to three runs on eight hits over six innings to put his record at 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA in six outings.

Joe Musgrove lost his third straight start for the Astros as he got hit hard in 3 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs on 12 hits -- including a trio of homers -- in falling to 4-7 with a 6.01 ERA. The loss snapped Houston's four-game win streak and it was just its ninth setback in 36 road games, as it is now 50-25 overall.
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"He really made a lot of mistakes in the strike zone and they made him pay for it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They did a good job of putting some good at-bats together and we couldn't stop them. [Musgrove] kind of took it on the chin tonight just by not executing his pitches. You get in the middle of the strike zone too often against a team that can swing the bats, something like this can happen."
Zunino not slowing down: The Mariners catcher continued his amazing June turnaround, as his three-run homer capped Seattle's six-run third off Musgrove. Zunino drove a first-pitch fastball over the out-of-town scoreboard in left center -- a shot projected at 403 feet by Statcast™ -- to up the lead to 7-1 after Mitch Haniger drove in one on a bases-loaded single and Valencia followed with a two-run base hit. Zunino has an MLB-leading 29 RBIs in June, along with nine home runs. Both are the highest totals ever for a month by a Mariners catcher.

Tee-off time: Seattle knocked Musgrove out in the fourth with two more runs on solo homers by Gamel and Seager. Gamel ripped a 400-foot opposite-field shot to lead off the frame on a 3-1 slider, and Seager drove a first-pitch fastball 422 feet to right for his eighth homer of the year. Gamel has been just as hot as Zunino this month as he extended his hit streak to 15 games -- the longest active streak in the Majors -- with a 2-for-5 night. The rookie left fielder has hit .444 (28-for-63) during that stretch to put his average at .354 on the season.
"Good things are happening right now, no doubt about it," Gamel said of the Mariners' offensive surge. "If everyone is sticking to their game plan and we're just grinding through at-bats. It's a tough game and if we keep putting at-bats out there, it's just going to play into our game."

"This is for real. We're trying to do whatever we can to get the win. This is big for us. These are the guys we're chasing in our division. They got off to a great start and have been swinging the bats all year." -- Mariners center fielder Jarrod Dyson
Yovani Gallardo, who lost his rotation spot with the Mariners on Thursday to rookie Andrew Moore, pitched his first game in relief since 2007 for the Brewers and wound up getting the save, thanks to pitching the final three scoreless innings. It was only the second save of his pro career, the other coming in 2005 while pitching for Class A West Virginia.
"It definitely felt different," Gallardo said. "But it's just nice to get back out there. Obviously we all know things weren't going the way I expected this year. I just have to go out and throw well whenever my name is called. Just keep pitching and we'll see what happens."
While the Mariners built their big early lead via the long ball, they tacked on three runs in the seventh using speed -- and a pair of wild pitches by Astros reliever James Hoyt. The Mariners tallied twice on Hoyt's first wild pitch when Valencia scored from third and Dyson zipped all the way from second base, sliding under the throw to the plate. After Jean Segura followed with a double, pinch-runner Taylor Motter moved to third on a groundout and then scampered home as well after another pitch got past McCann to make it 12-3. More >
"It's a special talent, the speed there," Servais said of Dyson. "He wasn't even running hard when he came around third, he almost stopped and then he just turned it on. He's pretty electric on the bases."

Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers will come off the disabled list Saturday to start Saturday's 9:10 p.m. CT game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. McCullers (6-1, 2.58 ERA) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his most recent start on June 8 at Kansas City.
Mariners:Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 3.43 ERA) will make his eighth career start in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. PT game. The 27-year-old rookie right-hander will be facing the Astros for the first time.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [


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