There must be a rivalry between Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano. The former Yankee star who signed a loaded contract with Seattle must hear regularly how Altuve is the best second baseman in the American League. Altuve has made several All-Star appearances and has, this year, been the focus of legitimate MVP talk.
Bang! - there it goes
(c) Associated Press
Like Hakeem Olajuwon used to bristle about hearing how David Robinson was the NBA's best center, Cano probably feels the same whenever he gets slighted. He made his presence felt Monday night with a pair of home runs in a 4-3 decision over the Astros, including the game-winner in extra innings.
Cano's 34th homer of the year fell into the Houston bullpen to up the Seattle lead to 2-0 in the third. The bomb came against Collin McHugh who has an undefeated streak in September going all the way back to 2014.
Hisashi Iwakuma carried that lead into the sixth when Jake Marisnick drew a walk and scored on a double by Marwin Gonzalez. Altuve, who hurt his wrist mere minutes before diving for a ball, singled but Gonzalez was thrown out easily at the plate.
Seattle added an insurance run in the ninth on an error by reliever James Hoyt and they would need to cash in that policy in the bottom of the ninth.
Gonzalez followed George Springer's single with a base hit of his own that moved the runner to third. Altuve bounced into a fielders choice that plated Springer. Altuve then stole second and chugged home with the tying run on a single by Carlos Correa who is tied with Altuve for the club lead in RBIs with 95.
With Luke Gregerson on the mound in the eleventh, Cano delivered the knockout blow when he smashed a hanging curve deep into the right field stands for his 35th homer to put the Mariners back on top, 4-3. Cano finished with a 3-for-4 night with a pair of walks. He has 94 RBIs on the season.
Altuve and Correa singled in the bottom of the 11th in an attempt to tie but Nick Vincent fanned Evan Gattis then coaxed a pop fly from Yuli Gurriel to end the game. Houston has now lost 4-of-5 on this homestand, three of them on bullpen pratfalls.
With the loss, the Astros fell 3-1/2 games behind Baltimore for the last wild card spot while Detroit and Seattle sit two games behind. The Mariners have moved to a 1-1/2 game lead in the AL West standings for second place.
King Felix Hernandez (11-6) takes his turn on the hill Tuesday night while the Astros counter with Mike Fiers (11-8) in a 7:10 Central start. Altuve will likely be in the lineup with an aching left wrist. Cano will continue his grudge but can console himself that, at least, he gets paid far better than his All-Star rival.
- Bob Hulsey