• Brian L. Barefield

Around The Bases: Astros Lose First Series Of The Season To The Mariners

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

The Houston Astros lost the final game of their nine-game season-opening road trip to the Seattle Mariners 7-2. They have lost three out of their last four games and are currently behind the Los Angeles Angels in the standings with a 5-4 record.

Houston will have a chance to regain the lead in the A.L. West as they take on the Angels in a three-game homestand starting Monday.

Let’s go around the bases and recap the series against the Mariners.

First Base: Out Of The Zone

With the exception of Justin Verlander, the starting rotation for the Astros seems very out of synch. Jake Odorizzi and Jose Urquidy’s inability to command the strike zone led to a combined 16 hits and ten earned runs for Seattle in only 8 1/3 innings pitched.

It was the Mariners’ top-of-the-lineup that consisted of second baseman Adam Frazier and Ty France that gave both pitchers the most trouble as they combined for 12 hits and 10 RBI. Heading home, it will be left up to the Astros pitching staff to help their starters get better acclimated to throwing strikes and lasting longer innings, or this could be a very long homestand for Houston.

Second Base: Connection Issues

I am about to tell my age here, but I remember a time when you had to plug a phone line from the wall to the computer to use the internet. Yes. That was a real thing before wireless routers. Before you could begin to surf the web, you had to wait for whatever internet provider you had to connect you. Sometimes it took multiple tries to establish a connection which caused a longer wait time for the user.

The Astros bats must be the equivalent to dial-up service because they cannot seem to make any connection with the baseball as of late. On Sunday, they were almost no-hit by rookie Matt Brash who was wildly ineffective for most of the game, giving up six walks.

Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Yuli Gurriel struggled badly in the Mariners series, going a combined 5-for-47. While I don’t expect the batting drought to continue, it is a concern coming into a three-game series against A.L. West-leading Los Angeles Angels.

Third Base: Peña Power

I don’t want to get too excited nine games into the season, but rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña is giving me those “It” factor vibes with his play so far. Even though he was given the day off in the last game of the series, he made his presence felt in the second game.

Peña had his third multiple-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 at the plate, and came up a home run short of hitting for the cycle. He has a .345 batting average for the season to go along with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and a .996 OPS. I am not saying he will make the former player who played that position obsolete any time soon, but if he keeps producing like this, he will come close.

Home Plate: Ace In The Hole

There aren’t many accolades you can throw (no pun intended) towards starting pitcher Justin Verlander that he has not heard in his Hall of Fame career, but I will try. The former two-time Cy Young Award winner was absolutely fantastic in his second start of the season. He pitched eight scoreless innings in the Astros’ only win of the series and could have completed the game if the team needed at least one more inning from him.

Verlander was in rare form as he did not allow a runner to get past first base allowing four scattered singles, and no Mariners hitter was given a free pass as he also did not issue a walk to any of them. Did I tell you that he did all this while only throwing 87 pitches? Yes. He was that good.

After being on the road for nearly a month and a half, the Astros will finally enjoy some home cooking and some hometown fan love as they get to spend the week at home before heading up 45 North to take on the Texas Rangers.

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