Statistical analysis doesn’t always require a calculator, much less an Ivy League pedigree, to offer explanations. The Mariners have one run this season in their first two games.
They also have two losses.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gave up a pair of solo home runs Tuesday night, and that was enough to pin him and the Mariners with a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Tuesday’s setback followed a 3-0 loss in Monday’s season opener. So, yes, the Mariners opened the season with two solid pitching performances and have squat to show for it.
"As a team, we have to do a better job," designated hitter Nelson Cruz said, "especially with runners in scoring position. It’s not like the Astros have been doing a great job either.
"They just hit some homers and got their runs like that."
Astros starter Lance McCullers on Tuesday permitted one run and five hits over six innings before handing a 2-1 lead to the bullpen. Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles closed it out.
Iwakuma also exited after six innings. The two runs came on solo drives by Houston’s No. 8 and No. 9 hitters: Brian McCann in the third inning and Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth.
Both homers were opposite-field drives into the Crawford Boxes atop the left-field scoreboard.
"Those pitches were, actually, not bad pitches," Iwakuma said. "But tip your cap to Marwin and McCann. They put a good swing on it. They knew that the fastball was going to be out there, and they took advantage.
"The wind was blowing out, and you can’t do anything about it…I thought they were outs."
The Mariners had chances. Not a bunch but enough.
They wasted Robinson Cano’s two-out double in the first inning when Cruz chased a 2-2 breaking ball for a third strike. They also stranded seven runners from the fourth-through-sixth innings against McCullers.
The Mariners were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"We’re not stringing good at-bats together," manager Scott Servais said. "Their pitching has been very good, but we’re chasing some balls out of the strike zone. We’ve gotten away from controlling the zone a little bit.
Houston opened the scoring on McCann’s one-out slicing drive into the Crawford Boxes in the third inning.
Mitch Haniger’s leadoff double in the fourth led to the Mariners’ first run of the season. He went to third on Cano’s grounder to second and scored on Danny Valencia’s soft two-out nubber of a single to third.
"I thought after Valencia got that infield hit," Cruz said, "that would get us going. I thought that was the break that we needed."
The Mariners loaded the bases with two outs in the inning but settled for one run when Mike Zunino grounded out to short. They then left two runners in the fifth and two more in the sixth with the score tied 1-1.
Iwakuma didn’t give up a hit after McCann’s homer until Gonzalez opened the sixth inning with a homer. The Astros led 2-1.
That’s how it ended.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Valencia turned McCann’s slow roller into a 3-5-3 double play (first to third baseman Kyle Seager covering second and back to first) in the fifth inning. Yes, it helped that McCann was the batter.
PLUS: Zunino double-clutched on a throw to second and still threw out George Springer in the third inning. That’s a minus and a plus. Zunino threw out Springer again in the sixth inning…the bullpen relay of Evan Scribner, Marc Rzepczynski and Dan Altavilla combined for two scoreless innings…Valencia had two of the Mariners’ seven hits.
MINUS: Shortstop Jean Segura nonchalanted Jose Altuve’s routine two-out grounder in the first inning, and Altuve was initially called safe before a challenge overturned the call…Segura was also hitless in five at-bats…Cruz was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left four runners on base.
STAT PACK: The Mariners are 0-2 for the first time since 2004, when they started 0-5.
QUOTABLE: "It’s early," said right fielder Mitch Haniger, who had a double in five at-bats. "You just go out there and stay within yourself. I'm sure we’ll bounce back.
"Hitting comes and goes. It’s just about grinding out at-bats, hitting the ball hard and swinging at good pitches."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners