Astros end Mariners 14-game winning streak
SEATTLE — The biggest crowd of the season at T-Mobile Park, energized by the Mariners’ longest winning streak in 21 years, didn’t have to wait long for a sobering encore of the team that still leads the American League West.
Jose Altuve hit the third pitch of Friday’s game against Seattle starter Marco Gonzales to the left-field wall for a first homer, and Yordan Alvarez and Martín Maldonado added solo homers to send the Astros to a 5- 2, breaking the Mariners’ 14. – series of victories.
“That sets the tone for the second half for us,” rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña said.
Astros starter Jose Urquidy held the Mariners to one run on four hits in six innings, and the Houston bullpen survived a tenuous eighth-inning rally. The Astros outshot the second-place Mariners in the AL West by 11 games and improved to a season-high 30 games over .500 (62-32).
Here are three key moments from the Astros’ win:
Altuve responds to the crowd
After hitting the All-Star break on a 14-game winning streak, the Mariners hoped to continue against the Astros in first place. With an amplified crowd making noise early in the game, Altuve quickly calmed them down with a first homer – his 18th homer of the season.
“I think that kind of set the tone,” Altuve said. “Obviously they’re playing really good baseball, and just to be able to come in today and get some good swings on the ball and win the game, that was really good for us.”
Alvarez led the fourth with his 28th homer, and Maldonado hit the fifth to help the Astros take a 5-1 lead. The Astros improved to 16-1 in games in which they hit at least three home runs (the only loss was a 7-4 loss to the Mariners on June 6).
Urquidy solves the Mariners
The Astros, who use a six-man rotation, certainly could have chosen not to start Urquidy against the Mariners, given he was 0-3 with a 10.38 ERA in his previous three starts against them in 2022. But Urquidy has proven to be up to the challenge.
The right-hander held the Mariners to one run and four hits in six innings, throwing 105 pitches to go 9-4 on the season.
“I was very focused,” he said. “I have studied a lot this year. I made a good plan. We talked a lot, me and Maldy, for today and the plan was good. I was attacking the zone and throwing everything with conviction and throwing step by step, batter by batter.
Since allowing five earned runs and 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings in a loss at Seattle on May 28, Urquidy is 5-2 with a 3.23 ERA and 0 WHIP. 95 in nine starts, eight of which were quality starts. He pitched at least six innings in seven straight starts, although it didn’t look like he would when Friday’s game started.
“His pitch count got pretty high and he threw a quality start,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I don’t know how many times in a row for him, but against a team like this he is his nemesis this year, it was important for Urquidy and for us.”
Peña shows his hops
The Astros had to hold their own in the eighth, when the Mariners went through a run on a base-laden walk, bringing Kyle Lewis up with one out. Facing reliever Ryne Stanek, Lewis hit a broken bat liner for short that a leaping Peña hooked in the air to save at least one, maybe two runs.
“So I thought he hit it a little harder,” said Peña of the liner, which had an exit speed of 77.2 mph. “It was at the end of the bat, and the ball was in the air. I think I had a pretty good read on that, and I just got up and did the hook.
Baker couldn’t tell from his vantage point if Peña had a chance of catching the ball.
“I didn’t see Peña jump,” he said. “Now I saw him jump. He said he had more in the tank, but I don’t know how much more. It was important because they were coming together, the crowd was in there and they were trying to push them to [win] No. 15.
Stanek hadn’t seen Peña jump either, but he wasn’t surprised he had played along.
“The kid is a freak athlete, so it doesn’t surprise me that he has bunnies,” he said.