Mariners seek to keep Astros reeling

MLB

It’s only a couple of weeks into the season, but the Seattle Mariners already have shown they’re a team that doesn’t quit.

Ty France drove home the winning run with a ground-rule “single” in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night as the American League West-leading Mariners defeated the short-handed and visiting Houston Astros 6-5.

The three-game series continues Saturday night at T-Mobile Park.

It was the fifth comeback victory in 14 games for the Mariners and the fourth time they’ve rallied from three or more runs behind.

“I don’t think anybody should turn the TV off early in our games,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I don’t know about you guys, but I think it’s pretty fun. It’s fun to watch.”

Seattle trailed 3-0 and 5-2 Friday before scoring twice in the seventh and tying the score in the eighth.

J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger walked on nine pitches from Astros right-handed reliever Ryne Stanek to open the bottom of the final inning.

Houston manager Dusty Baker brought on Ryan Pressly to face France, but he hit a 1-1 pitch into the gap in right-center field. The ball hopped over the fence, but France was only credited with a single because he never touched second base. He was instead mobbed by teammates as the “sold-out crowd” of nearly 9,000 socially distanced fans — the most allowed by King County during the pandemic — showed their approval.

“That was awesome,” France said. “Having fans back and hearing the roar, it was incredible. It sounds like there’s a full stadium in there. The fans are doing a great job bringing the energy.”

Evan White’s solo homer, his first home run of the season, tied the score in the eighth. Of his nine career home runs, four have come against Houston.

“White’s been killing us ever since he’s been in the league,” said Baker, whose team suffered its sixth straight loss after a 6-1 start.

The Astros were without second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman, designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, catcher Martin Maldonado and utility infielder Robel Garcia, who were placed on the injured list Wednesday because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Astros second baseman Alex De Goti made his major-league debut Friday, going 2 for 4 with an RBI.

“To be able to step on this big-league field and help my team try to win … unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top, but just trying to help them win,” he said.

The Astros are scheduled to send right-hander Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) to the mound Saturday against Mariners righty Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50).

Greinke is 7-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 16 career appearances against Seattle, including 14 starts. Flexen is 0-1 with a 15.75 ERA in one career start against Houston, when he gave up seven earned runs in four innings as a rookie in 2017 with the New York Mets.

Astros left-handed reliever Blake Taylor was carted off the field in the eighth inning after attempting to field a slow roller from Taylor Trammell down the first-base line. It came just after Taylor allowed White’s tying homer.

Baker said Taylor suffered a severely sprained ankle and is likely headed to the injured list.

“Those things take awhile to heal,” Baker said.

–Field Level Media

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