Houston's bats come alive

Astros overpower Mariners in opener to extend division lead

Astros' Jake Meyers Celebrating
Jake Meyers drove in four runs including a three-run homer against the Mariners on Monday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jake Meyers drove in four runs including a three-run homer against the Mariners on Monday night.

After a disappointing end to their recent road trip by getting handed a walk-off loss to the Padres to drop the series in San Diego, the Astros returned home with a big series against the second-place Mariners on deck. They took care of business in Monday's opener, getting plenty of offense to power past Seattle.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 2

Astros' Record: 80-57, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (11-4)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (7-8)

Houston knocks out Kikuchi early

After a scoreless first inning, the Astros took advantage of Yusei Kikuchi's inability to find the strike zone in the bottom of the second. They worked three straight walks to begin the inning with the bases load and no outs, setting up a two-run play where an error cost Seattle some outs and some runs, with two coming across on a groundball hit by Aledmys Diaz that could've been a double play.

Jake Meyers capitalized further in the next at-bat, drilling a 400-foot homer to extend the lead to 5-0. They weren't done there, as later in the inning, Yordan Alvarez made it 6-0 with an RBI double, ending Kikuchi's day at 1.2 innings.

Plenty of run support for McCullers Jr.

After that six-run second inning, Lance McCullers Jr. would have his worst inning of the night, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, including a two-RBI double to Abraham Toro, which at the time made it a four-run game at 6-2. He rebounded nicely from the damage, though, retiring seven in a row to keep them to two runs through five frames. He returned for the sixth and erased a leadoff single and a walk to toss another scoreless inning. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

Those six innings of work had him squarely in line for the win, as Houston would tack on two runs in the fifth on another RBI by Meyers and one scoring on an error. They didn't stop there, getting another multi-run inning in the bottom of the sixth by scoring three; two on a two-RBI double by Kyle Tucker and later an RBI single by Alex Bregman, pushing the lead to 11-2.

Astros take the opener in dominant fashion

Houston's first reliever was Brandon Bielak in the top of the seventh. He erased a leadoff walk, getting a strikeout and double play to face the minimum in the inning. He kept going in the top of the eighth and had an exact repeat of the inning prior, walking the first batter, getting a strikeout, then an inning-ending double play, this one started by Marwin Gonzalez, who entered defensively in the inning at third to rest Alex Bregman.

Bielak stayed on the mound in the top of the ninth, still with a nine-run lead, to try and complete the piggyback. He finished off the win for Houston, pushing the Mariners back to 5.5 games back, as are the A's, and gives the Astros the chance to get a series win on Tuesday.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game series will get started at 7:10 PM Central on Tuesday. Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.32 ERA) will try to move back to even on the year for Houston, while Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.14 ERA) is expected to start for Seattle.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome