The Mariners had high praise for Houston right-hander Brad Peacock after Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Their appreciation for umpire Dan Bellino’s work was considerably more restrained.
Bellino provided Peacock with an expanded strike zone — particularly down, and down and away — and Peacock took full advantage. He hit the edges, and it left the Mariners helpless: one run and three hits in seven innings.
"You've got to give Peacock credit," manager Scott Servais conceded. "He threw a good ballgame. He was right on the edges with his stuff tonight, and he’s been throwing the ball well, too."
The praise for Peacock was genuine. Hitting those edges was no small feat.
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"He was just mixing it up on us," center fielder Jarrod Dyson said. "That’s it. He was doing a pretty good job of mixing his fastball with his off-speed, and he was able to keep us off-balance."
Mariners rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio was less successful on those edges. He fell behind repeatedly and, while he prevented Houston from putting together a big inning, the accumulative effect was much the same.
"I worked from behind," Gaviglio said, "and they took advantage of it. I need to do a better job early of coming out and being sharp. Throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys."
Gaviglio (3-5) gave up five runs in six innings, including two booming solo home runs by Evan Gattis. On a night when Peacock (8-1) was dealing, Gaviglio had too many slips.
"Sam has to live at the bottom of the strike zone," Servais said. "We’ve seen Sam a little bit sharper. He hung there. We needed to get deep in the game with him. We needed to be a little bit patient with him tonight based on where our bullpen was."
Resting the bullpen was no small matter. The Mariners squeezed 18 1/3 innings from their relief corps over the previous four days, which left the unit on fumes entering Tuesday’s game.
Gaviglio provided everyone but Emilio Pagan with a day off — and Pagan was the only reliever who didn’t pitch Monday in a 9-7 victory over the Astros in 10 innings in the series opener.
That means the Mariners have bullpen that is at least somewhat refreshed going into Wednesday’s series finale.
Three takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:
***Altuve wins this round: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve went 3-for-4 and reclaimed the American League batting lead from Mariners shortstop Jean Segura, who went hitless in four at-bats.
Altuve raised his average to .351, while Segura slipped to .344. Cleveland third baseman Jose Rodriguez is a distant third at .326. Settle in: The Altuve/Segura battle could turn into a match race.
***Unfamiliar territory: Robinson Cano ended an 0-for-15 skid by getting a single in his final at-bat, but he still finds himself in unfamiliar territory with a .269 average.
Cano entered the season with a .307 career average and has never batted lower than .271 in his 12 previous years.
***No. 200: Third baseman Kyle Seager got his 200th career double, which pulled him into a tie with Harold Reynolds for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Seager has a chance to climb past a few more names over the season’s final 2 1/2 months. Dan Wilson is next on the list with 207, then Alvin Davis at 212 and Raul Ibanez at 216.
The rest of the list: Jay Buhner at 231, Ichiro Suzuki at 295, Ken Griffey Jr. at 341 and Edgar Martinez at 514.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners