• Brian L. Barefield

BOOM! Alvarez’s return to the lineup wakes Astros bats up in victory over the Mariners.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

I have a friend that I have known for over 20-plus years of my life that I just refuse to lose any competitive events to. No matter if it’s video games, cards, board games, kick ball, etc. I am not losing. It must feel that way every time the Houston Astros (9-10) face the Seattle Mariners (7-14). The Astros used a strong first inning offensive outburst to defeat the Mariners 11-1 on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

They have now beat the Mariners 22 times in the last 24 games played.

Houston scored nine runs in the bottom of the first inning to take command of the game. It was the ninth time in 20 years that the Astros have scored nine runs in the first. The last time being against the Kansas City Royals in 2016. The lineup got a big boost with the return of reigning 2019 A.L. Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez. He missed the first three weeks of the season as he recovered from coronavirus.

He made his presence known as soon as he stepped into the batter’s box for the first time. His three-run homer gave the Astros a 4-1 lead and opened the flood gates for the rest of the order as Houston batted around in the inning.

“I felt really good being able to be back in the batter’s box,” said Alvarez. “I felt good, I felt comfortable. I wasn’t expecting to hit a home run on that first at-bat, but it left.”

Photo Credit/ Houston Astros

The hitting barrage continued on the very next at-bat when Yuli Gurriel hit a line shot home run to the Crawford Boxes. It was the first time the Astros had hit back-to-back homeruns since September 2019 against the Texas Rangers when Alex Bregman and the aforementioned Alvarez did it.

It wasn’t all that bright to begin the game for starting pitcher Framber Valdez (1-2). He committed a numerous amount of mistakes in the first inning walking a couple of batters, and even hit a batter while surrendering a run to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

“I got really anxious in the middle of the inning there,” Valdez said after getting his first Major League win. “I wanted everything to happen a little bit too quickly. The good news is I was able to calm down. I took a deep breath. I was able to refocus myself and get the three outs, even though I was going through a tough time in that inning. I was able to relax from there.”

It was a bad night for the Mariners late game starter Nestor Cortes (0-1) was ran off the mound after going just 1/3 of an inning giving up 7 runs and 2 homeruns on 41 pitches. He was inserted as the starting pitcher after Yusei Kikuchi was diagnosed with neck spasms and couldn’t play.

Astros manager Dusty Baker was elated by the way his team swung the bat in the game and hopefully they can continue their winning ways going forward.

“I don’t know what the record is for this team in the past, but you score nine runs in that first inning, and that set the tone for the game,” Baker said. “We got some lucky hits this time. It hasn’t been going our way. It was a wonderful thing to see that. When you are hitting, the world’s bright and lovely and wonderful.”

The Astros are back in action against the Mariners on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

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