Behind Enemy Lines

My First experience as a road fan at Seattle's Safeco Field

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Safeco Field and the beautiful city of Seattle. As my luck would have it, our beloved Houston Astros were playing a crucial series against their AL West Rivals, the Seattle Mariners that week. When I planned my trip in May, I did not expect the AL West to be as tight of a division as it has been. This made my trip to Safeco that much more interesting.

Game One: Aug. 20, 2018, Mariners win 7-4

“You guys are wearing the wrong jerseys.”

Mariner fans were very welcoming to us as we took our seats in center field for the first of the three game series against the Astros. The open stadium of Safeco Field allowed for ash to fall from the sky; it’s been a brutal summer for the West Coast and their battles with forrest fires.

A 3-3 game in the sixth, I decided it was time to explore the food our AL West rivals had to offer. Ultimately, I settled on a hot dog that was bathed in grilled onions, sauerkraut and banana peppers. Robinson Cano would crush golden boy Collin McHugh in the eighth with a three run homer to center field to give the Mariners the lead. Almost instantly, fans turned to us with the biggest smirks on their faces, they were going to get the last laugh that night.

“Oh, better luck tomorrow, Astro Fan,” yelled a group of fans as my directionally inept self tried to make my way out of the stadium.

“I’ll wipe my tears with my World Series ring,” I yelled back as I walked through the same block for the third time.

Game Two: Aug. 21, 2018, Astros win 3-2

The second game was a big day for me. For those familiar with my twitter group, #FearTheCock Fan Club, it was an exciting day to see Bradley Peacock start his first game of the season. Yes, I was livid when Hinch pulled Peacock, but it allowed us an introduction to Framber Valdez. As the Astros had to get creative with their pitching staff, I got more creative with my food options.  Choosing between the dumplings and the lobster sandwich was like trying to choose between my love for Brad Peacock and my dying allegiance to Alex Bregman. I chose the sandwich. Whether the sandwich is Peacock or Bregman is for you to figure out. Spending $18.50 on a sandwich was suboptimal, much like the Astros’ franchise record six double plays on the day, but it was delicious, and the Astros tasted revenge as well when they beat the Mariners 3-2. Interestingly enough, Mariners fans were pretty quiet after the game.

Game Three: Aug. 22, 2018, Astros win 10-7

It was finally time for the rubber match, the ever so critical third game of the series. Day games typically mean nice weather. That was especially the case at Safeco Field. By the fourth inning, I do not know what was more annoying to the home fans, the Astros bats or me yelling “send the runner!” to Garry Pettis every time someone got a base hit (Shout out to my boy Johnny G). They were up 9-2 at the end of the fifth and the extra money I spent on lower level infield seats suddenly felt worth it. The sports Gods are never late to punish, though, as the Mariners made the game interesting, scoring five in the sixth. Suddenly, the obnoxious road fan was quiet. That was until Tyler “El Osito Blanco” White decided to take Adam Warren yard to cushion the lead to three runs and helped introduce one of my favorite celebrations of the season. Where were you the day the Astros introduced the group stare? Me? I was in the stands of Safeco Field witnessing history.

“Are you guys even real Astros fans?”

“ Yes,” I replied bluntly ending the conversation. A lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep.

All things considered, Safeco Field was an awesome ballpark  to visit. This was my first experience being a road fan, and rooting for the defending champions definitely gave me this extra sense of confidence. There was not a thing a Mariners fan could say that a reminder of who won the World Series could not fix. The atmosphere, the activities, and the food inside the stadium definitely did the city of Seattle justice.

All that being said, let us compare this ballpark to the mighty Minute Maid Park.

Safeco has a metered bullpen where fans can track their pitch speeds. Minute Maid Park has a display of artifacts from the 2017 World Series Champions in the Union Station Lobby. Safeco Field has a throne fans can take pictures with every time Felix Hernandez pitches. Minute Maid Park has a mural commemorating their World Series Championship. Safeco has a diverse taste of food representative of the Pacific Northwest. Minute Maid Park has BBQ, a cornerstone of the city of Houston (the city of the defending World Series Champions).

Looks like it is Minute Maid Park in a landslide.

 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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