HomeTeamsAstrosFour Key Moments From This Week’s Astros-Mariners Series

Four Key Moments From This Week’s Astros-Mariners Series

Lack of hits with runners in scoring position. Blown saves. Bad situational hitting. The Astros experienced all that and more in their four-game series against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park this week. It was an important series for the Astros. If they swept the Mariners, they would hold sole possession of first place. If they got swept by the Mariners, the Astros would be a devastating seven and a half games out of the division lead. The Astros only won a single game in the series, the finale 4-0. They now sit five and a half games behind Seattle, entrenched in third place in the AL West standings. Let’s examine some key moments from each of the four games. 

Key Moment of Game 1: Top of the sixth, One out, Runner on second, Jeremy Peña batting. Score: Houston 2, Seattle 3.

Alex Bregman had just landed on second base after grounding into a fielder’s choice due to a poor throw from Mariners’ second baseman Ryan Bliss (playing in his major league debut for Seattle). Jeremy Peña stood in the batter’s box. A base hit to the gap would tie the game at 3. Peña fell behind early in the count 1-2, but watched a sweeper dance way out of the zone for ball 2. After fouling off a sinker, and watching a sweeper almost hit him for ball 3, Peña struck out looking on a sinker from Mariners’ starting pitcher Bryce Miller. That pitch just dotted the outside corner by an eyelash, according to Statcast. While the Astros had a chance with Jon Singleton to tie the game later in the inning with two outs and a runner on third, this at-bat proved costly because it’s emblematic of the Astros’ season-long struggle to hit with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. The Astros wouldn’t threaten to score the rest of the game and lost 3-2.

Key Moment of Game 2: Bottom of the eighth. One out, Runners on first and third, Ryan Pressly pitching. Score: Houston 2, Seattle 1.

Pressly has had a bad start to the year so far. Unlike his back-end of the bullpen compatriots, Bryan Abreu and Josh Hader, Pressly hasn’t seemed to find his groove yet so far this season, his first year as a set-up man after years spent acting as the Astros’ closer. Pressly allowed the first two base runners to reach on a double and a walk. A wild pitch moved the runner on second to third. He was able to get JP Crawford out on strikes for the first out. But danger still loomed with the third baseman Josh Rojas up at the plate. On an 0-1 slider down in the zone, Rojas dug it out and slapped a hard grounder that clanked off of first baseman Jose Abreu’s glove; the ball trickled into right field, as pinch runner Jonathan Clase scored from third. A better pitch by Pressly there and the Astros might’ve gotten an inning-ending double play. Alas, for the Astros, more runs would score later in the inning on a throwing error by Alex Bregman. The Mariners would win another close game by a score of 4-2.

Key Moment of Game 3: Top of the tenth, Zero outs, Runner on second, Chas McCormick batting. Score: Houston 1, Seattle 1.

Entering this game against Seattle, since the automatic runner extra-inning rule was put in place in 2020, the Astros are an abysmal 20-33 in extra-inning games. Wednesday’s game was a prime example of why. The Astros have had trouble moving over the automatic runner to third base with less than two outs. McCormick came up to bat with that as his instruction—find a pitch to drive to get a sacrifice fly and move the runner to third, so the Astros have a great chance at driving him in. After getting behind in the count 0-2, McCormick got jammed on an inside fastball and flew out harmlessly to right field, too shallow that the runner couldn’t advance to third. The Astros would go down in order in the top of the tenth without scoring a run. Contrast that to the Mariners’ bottom of the tenth. They were able to move the automatic runner to third by way of a groundout to Jose Altuve at second.A couple of walks by Tayler Scott loaded the bases with one out. J.P. Crawford hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field to win the game for the Mariners, 2-1. The Mariners won this game because they moved the automatic runner to third base; the Astros lost because they could not.

Key Moment of Game 4: Bottom of the sixth inning, Zero outs, Runner on first, Spencer Arrighetti pitching. Score: Houston 4, Seattle 0.

Spencer Arrighetti was in the midst of pitching his best start of the season for the Astros on Thursday afternoon. Issuing walks has been a problem for him all year, as he’s walked two or more batters in all nine of his starts this season. When he walked the lead-off hitter in the bottom of the sixth, it looked like Arrighetti was going to get in some trouble. The Mariners’ 3, 4, and 5 hitters were due up, getting their third look at Arrighetti this afternoon. On the year, opponents are hitting .300 off Arrighetti when he reaches the sixth inning. But, despite this, Arrighetti bore down and struck out Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh, and Ty France in a row. They all struck out swinging, as Arrighetti finished his best outing of the year—six innings, only two hits and three walks allowed, no runs allowed, and eight strikeouts. The Astros got just enough offense from Alex Bregman and Victor Caratini as they would go on to win the finale of this four-game series, 4-0.


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