Three takeaways regarding the Mariners from Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Houston at Minute Maid Park:
***Iwakuma shakes spring blues: Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma labored through a poor spring in giving up 14 runs and 23 hits in 17 2/3 innings. Those numbers reset to zero Tuesday and he delivered six strong innings in a loss.
"He’s a pro," manager Scott Servais said. "I think everybody wants to doubt him all of the time. It’s spring training. You’re getting ready for the season. I was excited to see him throw the ball the way he did (Tuesday)."
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***Bats stay silent: The Mariners, by any measure, have a more-potent lineup than the group that finished third last season among American League clubs in scoring. They have one run over two games in their two losses to Houston.
"We’re not stringing good at-bats together," Servais said. "Their pitching has been very good. We’re chasing some balls out of the strike zone. We’ve gotten away from controlling the zone a little bit. It happens."
The Mariners were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s loss.
***Strong-armed bullpen: For a second straight games, the Mariners got (and wasted) a fine collective effort from a patchwork bullpen that began the season with three relievers on the disabled list.
Most impressive was right-hander Dan Altavilla, who blew through the Astros in the eighth inning. Servais said late in spring camp that Altavilla was working his way toward the back end of the bullpen, and it’s easy to see why.
Don’t be surprised if Altavilla becomes the primary set-up reliever for closer Edwin Diaz.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners