Just as the Astros can't stop Seattle's Robinson Cano, they seem to have a mastery over Felix Hernandez, the Mariners' ace. In his last three starts against Houston, King Felix is 0-3 with a 14.81 ERA. That includes Tuesday's 8-4 spanking the Astros laid on him that narrowed the wild card race.
Springer: Reacts to game-winning double
(c) Associated Press
Mike Fiers was in typical form, allowing four runs over five innings on eight hits. Seattle tallied runs in the first, second and third innings while Houston answered with two in the first on an RBI double by Jose Altuve and a run-scoring single from Carlos Correa.
But the 2-1 lead was short-lived as Norichika Aoki doubled over George Springer's head in right, plating Sweet Jesus Sucre. Seth Smith followed with an RBI single and Adam Lead doubled home Nelson Cruz the following frame for a 4-2 advantage.
It stayed that way until the sixth when Altuve and Correa opened the inning with singles off Hernandez. Yuli Gurriel dribbled a grounder to Ketel Marte who stepped on second for a force out but then threw wild at first. Altuve slid home with Houston's third run.
Alex Bregman, who had sat out injured for nearly two weeks, came on to pinch-hit and dumped a single to left which scored Gurriel. Tony Kemp, who had walked, moved up to second. Jake Marisnick then squibbed a roller to Lind at first but Marisnick dived to the bag and beat Lind to load the bases. Lind, who had misplayed the ball briefly, was charged with an error.
Springer, who had three hits on the night, slammed a perfect eight-iron that bounced just fair of the right field line then hopped over the fence for a two-run ground-rule double that gave the Astros the lead. Marwin Gonzalez then drilled a two-run single back up the middle to complete the scoring.
Jandel Gustave worked 1-1/3rd innings to notch his first big league win. Chris Devenski and Pat Neshek finished out the non-save situation.
Houston moved within 2-1/2 games of Baltimore for the final wild card spot with four games to play. Seattle is two out and Detroit is just a game behind.
The last home game of the season will be Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 Central. Lefty James Paxton (5-7) will oppose Doug Fister (12-12) who has lost his last four decisions while the Astros have lost his last six starts. Expect a very short leash given the situation. Fister is a free agent after the season so this may be his last appearance with the ballclub.
This will also be the last broadcast for Astros television play-by-play broadcaster Bill Brown after thirty years of excellent work keeping viewers informed and entertained. I'm sure the fans will give him a warm salute during or after his final call.
- Bob Hulsey