Houston's offense went scoreless

Astros shutout by Mariners, preventing a four-game sweep

Houston's offense went scoreless Thursday afternoon. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a thrilling comeback win on Wednesday night to grab the first three games of this series, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon to try and put an exclamation point on an already successful homestand. A four-game sweep was not in the cards, however, as Houston's offense would go cold in the finale, ending the eight-game stretch of home matchups on a sour note.

Final Score: Mariners 1, Astros 0

Astros' Record: 13-12, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-3)

Garcia does well, but support never arrives

Luis Garcia had a relatively successful day on the mound, giving his team a chance by holding the Mariners to just one run over five innings. The run came on a solo home run by Taylor Trammell in the top of the third, putting Seattle in front 1-0. Unfortunately for Garcia, that would be the only run of the game, sending him to the loss. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 73 P.

Kikuchi takes a no-hitter into the seventh, Mariners complete the shutout

That's because Yusei Kikuchi was having an even better day. He would blank the Astros over seven innings, allowing just one hit, a double by Carlos Correa at the bottom of the seventh. After Garcia for Houston, the combination of Bryan Abreu, Brooks Raley, and Joe Smith finished off the final four innings, all scoreless.

Seattle's bullpen would finish the job for Kikuchi, getting two more scoreless innings while allowing just one hit, a single by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the ninth to finish Houston's day with just two knocks. The loss tumbles Houston down to fourth in the division standings, for now, as they head out on the road for the next six games over seven days.



Up Next: Houston will travel to Tampa Bay to start a three-game set with the Rays Friday at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 4.58 ERA) will head to the mound to try and help the Astros get back in the win column, while Ryan Yarbrough (1-2, 4.28 ERA) will be on the bump for the Rays.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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