Astros take another from the Mariners

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 7-4 win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 7-4 win
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With the Astros playing a marathon the day before with their bullpen responsible for 13 innings of work in the victory in the series opener, they looked for a more traditional win on Friday night. Here is a recap of game two of four for this weekend:

Final Score: Astros 7, Mariners 4.

Record: 92-50, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Joe Smith (1-0, 1.40 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Tommy Milone (3-9, 4.98 ERA).

1) Teams trade blows in the first while Valdez goes just four innings

It looked like Houston may be in for a repeat of the night before in the first inning. Framber Valdez struggled to find the zone, walking the bases loaded with one out before a two-RBI single put the Mariners out to a 2-0 lead. Valdez would recover and finish the inning; then, his offense went to work in the bottom half.

Jose Altuve led things off for the Astros by reaching on an infield single and advancing to second on an error. After a walk, Houston would get three-straight RBIs from Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, giving them a 3-2 advantage.

Valdez was able to get two clean innings in the second and third, but a leadoff single in the top of the fourth would turn into a tying run. With his pitch count rising, he would finish that inning but go no further in the game. His final line: 4 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 6 K, 0 HR.

2) Houston adds to their lead 

Houston regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out solo home run by Josh Reddick, his second in as many nights. Joe Biagini was first out of Houston's taxed bullpen and was able to retire Seattle in order in the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the inning, a one-out single by Alex Bregman turned into another run after he moved along to third on a hit batter and a groundout then took home while Aledmys Diaz was trapped in a rundown between first and second attempting to steal.

Biagini remained in the game for the top of the sixth; however, Seattle met him with a solo home run to start the inning and trim the lead back to one run. He would walk the next batter, resulting in another call to the bullpen to bring in Joe Smith who finished the inning. In the bottom half, Houston added two runs to their lead on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley and another on a passed ball, making it a 7-4 game.

3) Bullpen holds strong to seal the win

Hector Rondon was next out of Houston's bullpen and worked around a two-out hit batter to complete a scoreless inning in the seventh. Will Harris was next for the top of the eighth and he, too, would keep Seattle off the scoreboard.

Roberto Osuna finished things off in the ninth, notching another save and sealing up the victory for Houston. The win moved them to 92-50 on the year, tying them with the Yankees for the best record in the American League.

Up Next: Game three of this four-game set will be Saturday at 6:10 PM. Justin Verlander (17-5, 2.56 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston trying to replicate the success of his no-hitter from his last start, while Yusei Kikuchi (6-9, 5.36 ERA) will start for Seattle.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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