‘These guys can play.’ Mariners manager Scott Servais knows these aren’t household names fans are used to, but likes how this team looks
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners (13-5) lost their third consecutive game to the Houston Astros, 3-2, on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park. The Astros swept the series.
Here are three takeaways from the loss.
1. OFFENSE COOLS OFF
The Mariners struck out a season-high 15 times in Sunday’s loss, and 39 times in the three-game series against Houston.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said he is still pleased with how his hitters are approaching at-bats, but acknowledged the Astros’ pitching staff just won the weekend.
“It happens when you take deep counts,” Servais said of the strikeouts. “We’re OK with that. I’ve said from the beginning of spring training, we’re fine with that. We’ll keep grinding away.
“Not every club every weekend is going to make those pitches. They did this weekend. That’s why they beat us.”
The Mariners were averaging nearly eight runs per game entering the series, but never managed more than six in a single game against the Astros. Saturday, they managed just one, and in Sunday’s finale, they scratched across two.
2. BULLPEN TAGGED WITH LOSS
Mariners rookie reliever Brandon Brennan, who was acquired in the Rule 5 Draft in December, has pitched brilliantly this season.
But, Sunday afternoon, after tossing 11 1/3 scoreless innings to begin his major league career, Brennan allowed his first run in his ninth appearance — and it happened to be a game-winner.
Astros designated hitter Aledmys Diaz turned on a first-pitch sinker by Brennan (1-1, 0.73 ERA) in the seventh inning that just cleared the wall in left field, and lifted Houston to the win.
“He ambushed a fastball. It’s as simple as that,” Brennan said. “I threw a first-pitch fastball, I tried to put it on the outside, it kind of leaked back over the middle, down, found the barrel. And it was a little bit of a wall-scraper, but he hit the ball.”
Brennan relieved Mariners ace Marco Gonzales (4-0, 3.16) with runners at the corners and one out in the sixth, and struck out Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel in back-to-back at-bats to preserve a 2-2 tie before allowing the decisive home run the following inning.
“He’s having a great start to the season,” Servais said. “Can’t ask any more out of him so far. ... Really excited about what he brings to us and moving forward with him.”
Four of Seattle’s five losses this season have been tagged to the bullpen. Relievers Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Shawn Armstrong and now Brennan have each let late leads slip away this season.
3. HANIGER HOMERS AGAIN
The home run streak lives another day.
Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger hit the third leadoff homer of his career into the opposing bullpen to push Seattle’s streak of consecutive games with a home run to 18.
No other club in MLB history has hit homers in its first 18 games to start the season. The Mariners eclipsed the previous record set by the 2002 Cleveland Indians (14) last week.
Haniger’s dinger to left in the first — off of a curveball from Houston starter Gerrit Cole — was his fifth of the season, second in as many days, and Seattle’s 39th overall.
“He’s right in the middle of everything we’ve done offensively,” Servais said. “It doesn’t surprise me. He’s ready to go every day when he walks in here. He prepares as well as anybody we have.”
Jay Bruce (seven homers) still leads the club this season, followed by Daniel Vogelbach (six), Haniger (five), Tim Beckham (four), Edwin Encarnacion (four), Domingo Santana (four), Ryon Healy (three), Omar Narvaez (two), Dee Gordon (one), Dylan Moore (one), Tom Murphy (one) and Mallex Smith (one).