Rudy Owens (0-0, 0.00) versus Felix Hernandez (5-1, 2.94, xFIP 2.84)
Owens was recalled from AAA Oklahoma City to start in place of Brad Peacock, who is nursing a sore arm. As the Constable reported earlier today, that may mean anything from full-blown Tommy John to planned loss of organs. Regardless, the chances of this ending well were remote, and the played their part by Astros slumping to their fourth consecutive loss, losing to the Mariners by a score of 6-1.
On the Mound:
Rudy was in trouble early and often, allowing 5 earned runs. He was generous enough to allow Willie Bloomquist to hit his first home run in three years. That sixth inning 2-run home run was the final nail in the coffin, but it has to be said that before that, Owens did well to work around nine base runners and only allow three runs. He did not manage to record a single 1-2-3 inning, and did not benefit from any double-plays.
Owens gave up two runs in the first after getting two outs. He allowed a single-double-single sequence to Cano, Smoak and Seagar respectively. He then allowed only a single in the second and third in two scoreless innings, before allowing another earned run on a leadoff walk, a one-out single and a sac-fly. The fifth was remarkable only for a hit by pitch, then Owens opened the sixth by allowing a ringing one-out double off the very top of the CF wall to Mike Zunino, followed by a first pitch home-run to left field by noted power hitter and all-round offensive threat, Willie Bloomquist.
After getting the second out of the sixth, then allowing his second walk of the game, Owens was lifted for Darin Downs, who allowed a run in the seventh on a one-out single-balk-single sequence. Chad Qualls pitched the eighth, allowing no base runners and striking out one.
Owens' final line: 5.2IP, 9H, 5R/ER, 2BB, K. Not much on the ground (6:10 GB:FB ratio)
At the Plate:
For the third straight night, the Astros bats were quiet in managing only one solitary run. They totalled six base runners on five hits and a walk. Felix Hernandez - like Jered Weaver two nights ago - was in the mood for revenge, and he pitched 8 strong innings, throwing 102 pitches in the process, and being mashed in the left lower leg twice by line-drives that turned into outs.
The strongest offensive contributor - and stop me if you have heard this before - was Jose Aluve, who went 3-4, with a double, and RBI single, and a stolen base. His RBI was on a one-out single in the third to drive in Marwin Gonzalez, who started at 3B. Gonzalez had walked, advanced to second on a ground-out, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Altuve's base hit. Altuve then stole second, probably only to get a better vantage point so he could watch Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro (0-4, 2K) strike out.
For the second straight night, Altuve saw only eight pitches in four at-bats.
Fowler and Presley (starting for a still-sore George Springer) also recorded hits, both singles.
The first. No margin for error, and three consecutive two-out hits put the Astros in a hole that they were not going to climb out of.
Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve, for his abovementioned exploits.
Goat of the Game:
This is probably a little unfair, but Dexter Fowler nearly got ejected after arguing balls and strikes with the home-plate ump in the 3rd. He struck out looking on a full-count pitch. Gameday recorded the ball as pretty much right down the middle - not really argument material. Not really Goat-worthy either, but I feel bad giving it to Rudy Owens on his ML debut, when he was called up at short notice, and when he hasn't been in the greatest of form recently.
On the Morrow:
Tomorrows starters for the third game in the fourth game set are as below:
Dallas Keuchal (5-2, 2.92) versus Brandon Maurer (1-2, 6.00)
I believe that it is "Turn Back the Clock" night at Safeco tomorrow night, and both teams will be wearing uniforms from 1979. The Astros get rainbow shirts and numbers on their thighs - take it away Joe Niekro...
Be sure to watch if you can!!