Mark Trumbo’s two-run homer hit the train Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park, but it was Logan Morrison’s two-run pinch homer that lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros.
Morrison broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning when he crushed a 2-0 sinker from submariner Pat Neshek (3-4) after Brad Miller reached on a two-out single.
“At 2-0,” Morrison said, “I’m looking for a heater in the middle of the plate. If he spots something up, I’ll let it go.
“More than anything, I just wanted to make sure it’s over the white of the plate, and getting it up in the zone and trying to hit it really far.”
It went far enough to allow the Mariners to have the last word after making a few defensive misplays and squandering leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 5-3.
Manager Lloyd McClendon turned to Morrison because “he was the only lefty we had left. That guy (Neshek), he’s real tough on right-handers — particularly young right-handers who have never faced him.
“Logan was the obvious choice there.”
Now all the Mariners had to do was avoid letting another lead slip away, which loomed as a possibility after Colby Rasmus led off the Houston eighth by driving Carson Smith’s first pitch into the left-center gap.
It was an apparent double, but Rasmus kept running when Miller, still new to center field, threw the ball behind the runner to second base.
“Clearly, as an infielder,” Miller said, “I know what the situation is. But when it came off the wall, I wanted to make a play. I didn’t pick up my guys and I just rushed it.”
Smith responded by striking out the next three hitters.
“If I don’t let the run score there,” Smith said, “it’s better for the team. But at that point, I was just trying to get outs. We had a two-run lead at that point. If one run scored, so be it. I was just trying to minimize damage.”
When Tom Wilhelmsen closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth for his seventh save, Logan Kensing (1-0) got his first victory since Oct. 4, 2009. Kensing pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
For all that, Trumbo’s blast was the game’s signature moment.
It was 3-3 when he hit the cowcatcher on the train above the left-field wall with a runner on first in the fifth inning. It was his third homer in two games; his 11th as a Mariner and 20th overall.
Astros reliever Vince Velasquez had just blown a fastball by Trumbo on the previous pitch.
“I knew I needed to be a little earlier,” Trumbo said, “and that’s what I tried to do. It was a similar pitch, but that one was a little more down. I think I can handle it a little easier — especially when the velocity is higher.
“That’s probably the best one (I’ve hit this year). I don’t know how far it went, but it felt pretty good.”
Distance: 464 feet.
That 5-3 lead held until the sixth inning, when starter Roenis Elias exited with one out and a runner on first. In came Mayckol Guaipe, who struck out Max Stassi before yielding singles to Jake Marisnick and Jose Altuve.
The latter was a hit-and-run single through the vacated slot at second base and scored a run. When the Astros tried the same tactic with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate, the Mariners sniffed it out and called a pitchout.
But catcher John Hicks sailed a throw into center field for a run-scoring error.
“We’re calling a pitchout,” Hicks said. “We obviously expected him to run. I need to make a good throw there. I just came out and got a little out of rhythm and tried to get it there a little quicker than I needed to.
“If I make a good throw, he’s dead.”
Instead, all that throw did was set the stage for Morrison’s heroics.
“That’s one of the hardest things you can ask someone to do,” Trumbo said. “Watch the game for seven or eight innings and go up there and put together a quality at-bat. He did just that.”
Houston starter Scott Feldman exited with two on and two outs in the third inning because of what the Astros characterized as “discomfort” in his shoulder. He issued five walks and threw 85 pitches.
Three walks came with two outs in the Mariners’ two-run second inning. That forced in a run after Seth Smith followed Franklin Gutierrez’s leadoff homer with a triple to center.
Miller’s two-out RBI single in the third against Velasquez, who had just replaced Feldman, boosted the lead to 3-1. But Elias couldn’t hold it; the Astros scored single runs in the third and fourth.
WEDNESDAY: Seattle (RHP Taijuan Walker: 10-7, 4.53 ERA) at Houston (LHP Scott Kazmir: 7-9, 2.45), 5:10 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM