The Astros defense had three big plays that helped stem the tide of the Mariners offensive surge.
The Mariners had several chances to put the game out of Yordan Alvarez’s powerful reach. But alongside the Astros great relief pitching their defense would not allow it.
It started in the fourth inning when Alvarez threw Ty France out at home on what can only be described as a disrespectful send considering where Alvarez was when he got the ball and where France was on the base paths follow Eugenio Suarez’s single.
It was an inning that could have steamrolled the Astros with Mariners cleanup hitter Cal Raleigh coming to the plate and runners on the corners. Instead it stopped at 6-2 and ended Verlander’s day with an out rather than being pulled mid inning bringing a reliever into a high stress situation.
The Astros got another big play in the top of the seventh as Jarred Kelenic tried to steal second base and get into scoring position for JP Crawford with two outs.
Crisitan Vazquez threw a hot shot to second that took a hard hop but Jeremy Pena was somehow able to not only handle the throw but tag Kelenic out while also placing his foot perfectly in front of the bag blocking Kelenic’s ability to get in safely.
Whether or not that steal would have resulted in runs we’ll never know, but nevertheless it was an impressive play that ended the Mariners eighth inning maintaining a four run lead and nothing more all due to the stellar play by Pena.
Last but not least came Kyle Tucker’s ninth inning snag heading towards the wall on a hard hit ball by Julio Rodriguez.
Off Rodriguez’s bat it looked like the ball at least had a shot to go for extra bases if not out of the park altogether. But Tucker tracked it down and made a great leaping catch right at the wall saving the Astros a run they would find out later to be the difference maker.
The Astros played solid defense, had a terrific outing from their bullpen, and Yordan Alvarez did Yordan Alvarez things. It bodes well that Yuli Gurriel also seemed to be getting hot as he went three for four and the only out he made was a 104 mph line drive to left fielder Jarred Kelenic.
The Astros should have lost this game but doing the little things right defensively alongside a great relief outing from their bullpen kept this game within striking distance to let Yordan Alvarez become the story.
There are things to worry about such as Trey Mancini’s cold swinging streak continuing or the fact that Seattle now has Luis Castillo in game two on the mound giving them a strong chance for a rebound win.
But for now Astros fans should breathe a huge sigh of relief and scream a jubilant cheer of exultation as they narrowly escaped a devastating game one loss that would have been hard to recover from.
Game 2 is Thursday at 2:37 pm CT.