Houston's bullpen woes continue

Astros' pitching implodes as Mariners complete improbable comeback

Despite a big lead given by their offense, Houston's pitching couldn't keep it in a major implosion on Monday in Seattle. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After capping off a 5-1 homestand with a three-game sweep of the Rangers, the Astros picked up on the road Monday night in Seattle. After taking a large early lead, it looked like Houston might cruise to the win, but the Mariners had other plans, causing a collapse by Houston's pitching to make the improbable comeback.

Final Score: Mariners 11, Astros 8

Astros' Record: 61-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Kendall Graveman (4-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (1-2)

Astros explode for six in the first

Houston came out firing against Seattle's young starting pitcher, Darren McCaughan, making his first career start and second appearance. It all came with one out, with two reaching base before an RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, an RBI double by Carlos Correa, then back-to-back homers by Kyle Tucker, a three-run blast, and Abraham Toro, a solo homer to make it 6-0 before the Mariners could reach the plate.

Mariners roar back into it against Garcia

That provided Luis Garcia plenty of run support to work with, and through the first three innings, it looked as though the Mariners would have a tough time getting on the board against him. After allowing a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, he induced a double play en route to retiring nine in a row to face the minimum through three frames. After a Martin Maldonado solo homer in the top of the fourth to extend the lead to 7-0, Seattle bounced back in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with one out to set up a bases-clearing double to cut the score to 7-3.

Maldonado got one of those back in the top of the fifth, hitting an RBI single, but Garcia's struggles continued in the bottom of the fifth. Seattle put two on base via singles, and with two outs, Kyle Seager would make it a two-run game with a three-run blast to make it 8-6, ending Garcia's day. Bryan Abreu entered and notched the final out of the frame, finalizing Garcia's line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 87 P.

Houston's pitching implodes to hand Mariners the opener

After finishing the fifth for Garcia, Abreu remained in the game for Houston but would see a one-out walk come back to bite him, with the Mariners getting within a run with a two-out RBI single to make it 8-7. That prompted Dusty Baker to move on to Blake Taylor, who would get a strikeout to finish the inning. Taylor continued in the bottom of the seventh and was able to sit down the Mariners in order to retire four in a row to send the game to the eighth.

Still holding on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, Houston moved on to Ryne Stanek, but he would put two on while getting two outs before Dusty Baker had to play a lefty matchup to bring in Brooks Raley. Raley would not maintain the lead, issuing a walk to load the bases then giving up a go-ahead grand slam to give Seattle their first lead, three runs at 11-8. The Astros would go scoreless in the top of the ninth, dropping the opener to the Mariners, who completed the comeback.

Up Next: The middle game of this series between the Astros and Mariners will be another late 9:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. Houston will hand the ball to Lance McCullers Jr. (7-2, 3.04 ERA), while Seattle is expected to send Chris Flexen (9-4, 3.35 ERA) to the mound.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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