SEATTLE (AP) — Lloyd McClendon has exhibited patience during the young season and he’s not deviating from that approach.
Not even as the Seattle Mariners saw their losing streak reach seven games on Monday night, courtesy of a 7-2 loss to the Houston Astros.
“It’s a work in progress, we’ll be OK,” McClendon, the Mariners’ first-year manager, said.
The Mariners were looking at ace Felix Hernandez (3-1) to turn around their fortunes, but the dynamic right-hander couldn’t overcome a pivotal sixth inning that swung momentum, and the lead, to the Astros.
The Astros took advantage of an error by Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager in the sixth inning to score four unearned runs and break a 2-2 tie.
Jose Altuve led off the sixth with a double, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino fielded a bunt by Dexter Fowler and attempted to throw out Altuve at third base. Zunino’s throw arrived in time and on the mark, but Seager dropped the ball as he moved to tag Fowler.
Jason Castro followed with a sacrifice fly to score Altuve and give the Astros a 3-2 lead. Hernandez looked as if he’d escape further damage by striking out George Springer, but Marc Krauss, Alex Presley and Dominguez hit a run-scoring single, triple and double, respectively.
“It was a play you work on in spring training and I came in, read it that Zunino would get it and there would be a play at third,” Seager said of his error. “I got back to the bag in time, I just went for the tag a little too quickly … obviously you have to catch the ball first.”
Hernandez took the major-league lead with 43 strikeouts after recording four, but was unable to avoid his first loss of the season as the Mariners offense went silent in the latter part of the game, managing two hits in the final four innings.
The Mariners scored both their runs in the fifth on a two-run double by Abraham Almonte, but didn’t manage anything else off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (2-1), who limited them for six innings, allowing six hits and a walk.
“Just continues to attack the strike zone, he does a great job of pitching to both sides of the plate, he’s developed extreme confidence in his secondary stuff now,” Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Houston began the night with a .192 batting average, the lowest for any major league team through 19 games since the 2003 Detroit Tigers (.180), according to STATS. The Tigers went on to lose 119 games. The Astros collected nine hits on Tuesday to raise their average to .196.
Dominguez had broken a scoreless tie with a two-run home run over the visitor’s bullpen in left field in the fifth. Dominguez’s line-drive shot followed a single by Alex Presley, which had been just the second hit of the game for the Astros.
Two replay reviews were upheld, both benefiting the Astros. The first came when Zunino hit a towering fly ball well over the foul pole in left in the seventh inning that was ruled a long strike. McClendon asked the umpires for another review in the eighth when it appeared Altuve’s foot may have come off second base as the Astros were attempting a force out at the bag. The call was upheld and the runner was ruled out.
NOTES: RHP Collin McHugh, who the Astros will recall from Triple A on Tuesday to replace the injured Scott Feldman in the rotation, will likely be limited to about 85 pitches. … Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker, on the DL with right-shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday. If all goes well, Walker will resume throwing. … McClendon said LHP James Paxton is on a timetable to return six to eight months from when he strained his left lat muscle on April 9.
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