The trip to Seattle did the Astros well. After a sluggish start to the season, aside from Opening Night, Houston rebounded in Seattle by taking two out of three from the Mariners.
Tonight’s game started off with a bang. And not a good one at that. Jose Altuve got things started by rocketing a ball into right field that Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders caught while crashing into the wall. Saunders ultimately left the game looking dazed and with an apparent shoulder injury.
His replacement, Jason Bay, did not fare much better as Brad Peacock made quick work of Bay striking him out to begin the bottom of the first on a nasty breaking ball. That was followed by a one out walk that Peacock quickly erased by getting Kendrys Morales to hit into a double play.
After last night’s offensive explosion, manager Bo Porter chose not to mess with success. For that reason tonight’s lineup stayed the same with one small change, Rick Ankiel got the start over Wallace, and it worked. Porter seems to have found a successful and working batting order, so quite frankly there is no reason to change it. This is a team that has been looking for any measure of success and comfort all season, and perhaps they have found it.
The Astros did not have a repeat of last night where they batted around in the first inning, but they did give Peacock some early run support in the second inning. That was then promptly followed up by the Astros doing more damage to Seattle’s starter Blake Beavan in the third inning.
Chris Carter got things started by leading off the second inning with one of his two hits, a well struck singles to left field. Carlos Pena is becoming the middle of the order threat the Astros signed as he hit a double moving Carter to third. J.D. Martinez, at least so far this season, is recapturing the magic he had as a run producer early last year and he drove in Carter with a sacrifice fly.
Ankiel then followed that with his second timely home run of the season to put the Astros up 3-0. Another benefit of having Ankiel in the lineup, is his defense. In the sixth inning when things could have gotten ugly for the Astros after Dallas Keuchel walked the first batter he faced, Ankiel made a nice diving catch on a Raul Ibanez line drive.
The middle of the order then came through again in the third inning thanks to an error by Franklin Gutierrez on a Jason Castro pop fly. Pena drove Castro home with a single, and then for his second RBI of the night Martinez doubled in Pena.
Peacock navigated the second inning without a problem, but he was aided by a nice diving stop by Matt Dominguez and pick at first base by Pena. In the third inning Peacock did give Seattle one run back by allowing a Kelly Shoppach home run to left field. Shoppach was not done with Peacock as he doubled off the top of the left field wall in the fifth inning to drive in Dustin Ackley who had been hit by a pitch.
Last night the game got out of hand so quickly, that the Astros did not even have the chance to attempt a stolen base. In the fourth inning tonight, we were reminded of what we saw in Spring Training; the Astros are going to look to run. The problem so far this season, is just that they have not had the baserunners to do so. Granted Justin Maxwell was thrown out trying to steal after his two out fourth inning single, but that is alright. It was just nice to see the idea there.
Pena also showed emotion in the fifth inning when he struck out on a questionable check swing third strike. Porter came out to diffuse the situation, but ultimately it did not escalate. There were two things there that I liked. First, it was the fifth inning and it was only Houston’s third strikeout of the game. Second, there was some emotion. Pena also had a hustle double in the seventh inning.
More importantly in that inning, Carter hit shot to left field for a two-run home run to make the game 7-3. Carter is really looking like the bat the Astros traded for in the last two games.
Another night, and another short outing by an Astros starter. Peacock pitched well and really was not in trouble at any point in the night, but he just needed a lot of pitches to go five plus innings. He needed 95 pitches to make it through his outing, and that includes a long at bat by Gutierrez to start off the sixth inning that ended with a home run to right field.
Peacock struck out three, gave up three runs, four hits, one walk, and the two home runs. Aside from the pitch count, it was a very good outing and something to build on. There were not any points where he really seemed to be in trouble.
Marwin Gonzalez added a home run in the 8th inning and the bullpen provided four innings of scoreless relief. Keuchel kept the Mariners off of the scoreboard for two innings and then Rhiner Cruz and Jose Veras pitched an inning each. With an off day today, you cannot ask for anything more.
Heading into Tuesday’s game, the situation looked bleak. The Astros showed that they are able to turn it around and win some games. While you can’t expect this level of dominance to continue, it was nice to see that its possible.