The Mariners have tried playing this card before and it usually ends the same way - take a lefthander from deep in the bullpen and start him against the Astros because, well, because the Astros don't hit lefties much. It seems the entire AL West tries out this strategy.
Rondon: Closer job open?
(c) Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle
On Wednesday night, the Mariners trotted out veteran Wade LeBlanc, a 33-year-old who has pitched for seven big league clubs and, get this, is close to obtaining an MLB pension once his career is over. If the name is familiar, he's the same pitcher that ran up a 7.11 ERA in four appearances during the Astros' "Suck Across America 2013 Tour" (tm) before getting released. That Wade LeBlanc.
Seattle even gave Leblanc a lead in the fourth when Nelson Cruz drilled a solo homer. Big mistake as Houston's bats awoke to upend Seattle, 7-5, and move back within a game of the M's for first in the West.
Houston responded with three in their half of the inning, two provided on a long homer by Evan Gattis that snapped an oh-for-12 slump. Next, George Springer bashed an RBI double.
Lance McCullers couldn't hold the lead. Cruz singled home Jean Segura in the sixth and Denard Span took McCullers deep in the seventh. When Segura poked an RBI single, the Seamen had reclaimed the lead, 4-3.
The Astros put the game away in the seventh with four consecutive hits and a two-run knock from Yuli Gurriel pushed across four runs for a 7-4 advantage. Hector Rondon took the closer role for the night and got his first save as an Astro by etching the final four outs despite allowing two hits.
Carlos Correa was removed from the game after the seventh inning with soreness on his right side. He is listed as day-to-day.
The Rangers are next for the Astros with a four-game set at the Broilpark in Arlington beginning at 7:05 pm Central on Thursday night. It'll be a rematch of the Coles. Gerrit Cole (6-1) will take the mound against lefty Cole Hamels (3-5). The Astros won the first duel, 3-2, and Cole struck out 14 but neither factored in the decision.
The Astros closed out the draft by demonstrating the last rounds are for good family vibes more than talent. J.C. Correa, little brother of Carlos, was taken by Houston in the 33rd round. A.J. Bregman, little brother of Alex Bregman, was selected in the 35th round and Antonio Cruz, grandson of local icon Jose Cruz, became the Astros' choice in the 37th round. The chances of draft picks that low ever making the majors is slim and none. But they can still tell their kin they were once drafted by a big league team.
- Bob Hulsey