Mariners looking ahead after strong weekend

May 30th, 2022

SEATTLE -- The Mariners were on the cusp, had their chances and put the Astros on edge on Sunday. But at every big turn, the bottom of the order awaited and, ultimately, couldn’t come through in a tense, 2-1 loss that ended with Luis Torrens grounding into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded and the 28,986 on hand roaring in anticipation. 

That moment was part of the Mariners stranding seven on the bases and going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Seattle also didn’t have a hit until the sixth inning, evoking some of its all-too-familiar offensive woes over the past month, yet there were still instances where a breakthrough looked imminent. But at each, Houston -- which also struggled with run production, as it did all weekend -- shut the door. 

The Mariners certainly felt the impact of Kyle Lewis not being available to pinch-hit after being scratched from the lineup early Sunday, following a conferral with team athletic trainers and manager Scott Servais, who said that the club committed to giving Lewis a full day of rest to pair with Monday’s off-day following four straight days of playing after being activated from the injured list. 

“Kyle just wasn't available today,” Servais said postgame. “So, you have to take those things into consideration. And we knew when we did add him to the roster, there were going to be days he was going to be down. You’d like to plug him in there at a key moment, but you’ve got to stay true to what we decided when he came back, so that's what we did.”

Lewis made his presence felt with homers in each of the first two games of the series while batting in the No. 7 spot, but with Sunday being a day game after a night game and a cross-country flight immediately after, the club opted to sit him. 

The lack of Lewis was equally felt, particularly after the bottom three spots in Seattle’s order -- Mike Ford, Torrens and Taylor Trammell -- went a combined 1-for-9. Torrens’ single to lead off the sixth inning broke up a no-hitter by Houston’s Luis Garcia, and he did go on to score on Ty France's game-tying single. But that’s all the Mariners could muster on a day where Marco Gonzales threw 7 1/3 brilliant innings and was charged just two runs.

Here are several moments where the game got away:
• After France scored Torrens, he was on second base with Julio Rodríguez at the plate and two outs, but Alex Bregman made a stabbing catch on a would-be line drive that was headed down the left-field line and would’ve scored France.

• The Mariners chased Garcia by putting runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh, opting for Adam Frazier to move them over with a sacrifice bunt, then Ford and Torrens each struck out swinging to halt the possible rally. Making matters a little more frustrating was that the sequence came against reliever Rafael Montero, who Seattle designated for assignment last July then traded to Houston, where he’s become elite.

• Trammell led off the eighth with a called strikeout, then Jesse Winker flied out to the warning track, but France reached after being hit by a pitch to set up Rodríguez, again. But the rookie slugger swung over a gnarly splitter from Héctor Neris in a 2-2 count for the punchout to end the inning.

• Paul Sewald relieved Gonzales with Martín Maldonado on second base and one out, fell behind early in walks to Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman and gave up a bases-loaded single to Yordan Alvarez for the game-winning hit --- Houston’s only in the series with runners in scoring position. 

• Ford walked against All-Star closer Ryan Pressly to load the bases before Torrens hit in the 5-4-3 dagger.

• Gonzales put them in position to win with arguably his best start of the year, despite a second-inning mistake pitch to red-hot rookie Jeremy Peña, which represented the only runs he surrendered while he was actively on the mound.

“I’m just trying to give my team a chance to win,” Gonzales said. “That's the mission every single day, keep us in it. The other starter, man, Garcia was throwing the heck out [of] the ball. He really was. And I was just trying to match him and keep us in it.”

The Mariners were looking for their first sweep of the Astros of any amount of games since they won four in Houston from Aug. 9-12, 2018. 

“I thought we did a lot of really good things [this weekend], but to sweep a team like that, a really good team, a veteran club that is very deep, you’ve got to make all the little plays happen throughout the course of three games,” Servais said. “We did the first two nights. … I feel good about us continuing to get better. It wasn't headed in that direction here for a while, so a lot of good signs for this weekend.”