Houston scored four in the fourth to take the lead in Seattle then added four more in the ninth to complete an 8-2 victory Sunday, concluding a 6-1 West Coast road trip. After rookie Francis Martes had trouble locating the plate the first two innings, manager A.J. Hinch got out the hook and put his bullpen to work as he has so often this season.
Correa teases Sideshow Bob (Gurriel)
(c) Associated Press
Four relievers covered the last seven frames and limited Seattle to just three hits, two of the them in the ninth off Luke Gregerson who wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam to end it. Michael Feliz was credited with the win although Chris Devenski and Will Harris could have taken the honor as well.
George Springer got the offense started with his 22nd home run of the year in the fourth - a laser to deadaway center field that left the yard with urgency. Still in the fourth, Carlos Correa drilled an opposite-field double to the base of the fence that plated Jose Altuve and tied the game.
Ariel Miranda's day got worse when Yuli Gurriel blasted a two-run shot into the upper deck in left for a 4-2 Houston advantage. The bullpen doggedly held that lead until the offense put it out of reach in the ninth.
Evan Gattis cranked a two-run bomb into the upper deck off lefty James Pazos. Two outs later, Springer and Altuve both drew bases-loaded walks to plate the final two runs.
The Astros will take a well-deserved day off Monday before returning to action Tuesday at home against the just-swept Oakland A's. Houston will see lefty Sean Manaea (6-4) again in the 7:10 Central opener as he battles Mike Fiers (5-2) who has been the anchor of the patchwork rotation.
In other news, it appears staff ace Dallas Keuchel is going to continue to rest until after the All-Star Break. There's no timetable to get him back on the mound and, with Houston's big lead in the division, no need to rush his return. Could you imagine back in March what Astros fans would say if they were told they wouldn't have Keuchel for a month and wouldn't have Collin McHugh for the first half of the season but that they'd be sporting baseball's best record? It's been a miracle ride.
- Bob Hulsey