Houston's bats unload on Seattle

Yordan Alvarez returns as Astros romp Mariners in lopsided win

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After taking two of three against the Giants earlier in the week, the Astros had a day off on Thursday before resuming play at home Friday night. The series opener of the three-game set against the Mariners had Framber Valdez on the mound, and Yordan Alvarez activated and back in the lineup. Here's a quick rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 1.

Record: 9-10, third in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (1-2, 1.90 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Nestor Cortes (0-1, 15.26 ERA).

Seattle scores first, then Alvarez homers as Houston's offense explodes 

After successful command in his appearances so far in 2020, Framber Valdez had struggles in the top of the first inning Friday night, issuing two walks, hitting a batter, and allowing a sac fly to put Seattle up 1-0 right away. He would get through the inning; then, his offense went to work for a massive inning of their own.

After Yusei Kikuchi, the expected starter for Seattle, was a late scratch, Nestor Cortes would begin the game on the mound for the Mariners. The Astros jumped all over him, starting with an RBI-single by Alex Bregman to tie the game. With two runners on base, that brought up Yordan Alvarez for his first plate appearance of 2020. What he did with it should be of little surprise for those that watched the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year last season:

That gave Houston a 4-1 lead, but that was just the beginning. They'd go on to make it a nine-run inning, getting a solo home run by Yuli Gurriel to make it back-to-back homers after Alvarez, a two-RBI double by Martin Maldonado, an RBI-double by Josh Reddick, and then a final run on an error, making it 9-1. After his homer, Gurriel followed that with a triple in his next at-bat, leading off the bottom of the second with an immediate runner in scoring position. Carlos Correa drove him in with an RBI-groundout, getting the Astros to double digits at 10-1.

Valdez finishes six, bullpen wraps it up

After the erratic first where he allowed the run, Valdez was able to settle in for the following innings, battling back to keep Seattle off the board over the next five, pitching through six en route to the easy win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.

Yordan Alvarez would record another RBI, going to the plate with bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth before being hit by a pitch to bring in another run and make it 11-1. With Valdez's night done, Brandon Bailey took over in the top of the seventh and was able to erase a walk and a single for a scoreless inning, then returned for another in the eighth. Cy Sneed would go to the mound in the ninth and finished off the ten-run victory.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The Mariners have Nick Margevicius (0-0, 3.24 ERA) slated to make a start, while Cristian Javier (1-1, 4.02 ERA) will continue his rookie campaign for the Astros.

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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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