Nelson Cruz (not the former Houston pitcher) was a real pain in the butt when he was a Texas Ranger. The 38-year-old Dominican can still hit and he proved it again Friday with a key two-run double in the eighth off Ryan Pressly that almost left the yard. It was still enough to drop Houston, 5-2, Friday night as Seattle climbed back to within six games of the AL West lead. Meanwhile, the Angels overtook Oakland late to keep the A's four games out.
Marisnick: Amazing grab
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
The Astros were decked in 1980s retro and so were the Mariners which looked weird because the rainbow-decked Astros weren't in the same league, much less the same division back then so the contest did not dredge up old memories like it would have had the opponent been the Dodgers or Cardinals.
Gerrit Cole and Mike Leake pitched to a 2-2 tie through seven. Houston got their two runs in the fifth when Tony Kemp singled home Tyler White then Alex Bregman spanked a double that plated Martin Maldonado.
Seattle got it right back in the sixth when Mitch Haniger doubled to bring home ex-Astro Cameron Maybin. Then Denard Span drove in Dee Gordon with a base hit. With two away, Kyle Seager smacked a sinking liner to left center that appeared to score two more but Jake Marisnick made an incredible belly-sliding grab to end the inning. Marisnick may be the next DL candidate after he pulled up lame during a seventh-inning double.
In the eighth, however, Cole ran out of gas. Once again, Haniger doubled and Span singled which was time for the hook. Pressly promptly plunked Jean Segura to fill the bases. That's when Cruz smoked a 3-2 pitch to the fence in left center that broke the tie. Seager added an insurance run with an RBI bouncer.
The Astros, who outhit Seattle 9-7, couldn't mount a response and Edwin Diaz racked up his 44th save.
The most notable thing for the Astros was the return from the Disabled List of star shortstop Carlos Correa who had been out since June 25th, an absence of 36 games. Correa went 0-for-3 with a walk on Friday. To make room, the Astros sent infielder J.D. Davis back to AAA Fresno.
The two teams face off again Saturday night in a 6:10 pm Central squaredance. Charlie Morton (12-2) will try to break the skid when he faces former Astro Wade LeBlanc (6-2) who had a rough time against Houston during the last road trip to Seattle.
- Bob Hulsey