Taking the show on the road tonight to Seattle did not change anything for the Astros. In the interest of being good guests, they started off the night by staying consistent.
After a one out Justin Maxwell single, Chris Carter and J.D. Martinez promptly struck out to end the inning. If there has been one bright spot to the early season woes for Astros, it has been Maxwell. He is hitting well over .300, playing good defense, and had key hits in the one Houston win. Perhaps Bo Porter has found a solid number two hitter in Maxwell. But the problem, is that right now numbers three through nine in the batting order are not looking too good.
Thanks to a late March injury to Fernando Martinez, J.D. Martinez found himself on the major league roster to start the season. In limited playing time this season, Martinez has done well, leading Porter to think he could recapture his early season 2012 success in the middle of the order. However, that ended quickly as Martinez left in the 4th inning with an apparent injury and was replaced by Rick Ankiel.
Seattle wasted no time getting the scoring started as Kendrys Morales drove in Michael Saunders with a first inning single. Ronny Cedeno, who got the start at shortstop, should have come up with the ball for the out, but it was still likely that Saunders would have scored.
Morales then doubled in third inning to drive Saunders in again for the Mariners’ second run of the night. Franklin Gutierrez then executed a perfect squeeze bunt in the fifth inning to drive in Dustin Ackley two innings after his highlight reel catch. Gutierrez robbed Cedeno of a likely triple by making an unbelievable diving catch after running a long way into the right center field gap.
Despite the three runs that he gave up, Humber really was not in much trouble all night. In the fifth after Ackley scored to make it 3-0, things could have gotten out of hand after he walked Morales to load the bases. But Humber then got Mike Morse to hit into a double play to end the inning and escape trouble.
Humber gave the Astros a quality start, lasting six innings and giving up the three runs. He kept baserunners to a minimum (five hits and one walk) while striking out two. All the Astros can ask him for is a chance to win the game, and that is what Humber gave them. Wesley Wright then followed with a perfect seventh inning. Rhiner Cruz pitched a perfect eighth inning as his fastball was consistently in the mid 90′s while striking out one. The performance of the bullpen was nice to see, as that has not been a consistent trend so far this season.
Joe Saunders got the start for the Mariners, went 6.1 innings throwing 91 pitches, giving up six hits, and one walk. The bright spot for the Astros, is that they only struck out five times against Saunders. After the way the Astros began the season, that is a good thing. But the problem is, that Houston really did not put much pressure on Saunders. They really did not generate much offensive momentum. Maxwell, Carter, and Ankiel then promptly struck out in order in the eighth inning, prior to Houston going down quietly in the ninth inning.
Once Saunders left the game, the Astros did not give the Seattle bullpen much reason to sweat. Even though he entered the game late, Ankiel still struck out twice. Chris Carter did manage a single, but he added two strikeouts to his total for the year. All of Houston’s seven hits were singles. Matt Dominguez (two singles) and Brandon Barnes (single and walk) were the only Astros to reach base twice.