Crushing. Just crushing.
George Springer launched a three-run homer (video link) with two outs in the 13th inning Wednesday night that lifted the Houston Astros to a 5-3 walk-off victory over the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
Springer turned on a full-count curve from rookie Chase De Jong, the Mariners’ ninth pitcher, for a drive that had just enough carry to reach the too-reachable Crawford Boxes and snatch a victory away from the Mariners.
"He took a good swing," De Jong said. "I knew it caught a lot of the plate, so I figured it had a chance. It looked like he just got enough, but I’ve got to make a better pitch."
De Jong was in his big-league debut and was used only because the Mariners were out of pitchers. He is expected to be optioned Thursday to Triple-A Tacoma when lefty Dillon Overton returns from paternity leave.
The Mariners had taken a one-run lead in the top of the inning (video link) by getting four straight walks from Astros relievers Jandel Gustave and Brad Peacock. They had a chance for more but left the bases loaded with no outs.
"Situational hitting hurt us," manager Scott Servais said. "We should have scored more runs."
Evan Gattis started the winning rally with a one-out walk and went to second on Nori Aoki’s two-out single. Springer followed with his three-run homer.
"It was a strike," De Jong said, "but he just got too much wood on it."
The loss drops the Mariners to 0-3 and in need of a victory in Thursday’s series finale to avoid a sweep.
"Your first couple of games," third baseman Kyle Seager said, "everything is magnified. You’re the best team in the world or you're the worst team in the world. That’s the nature of the beast.
"This is all we have (to show) for this year. The only thing we’ve done this year is this. We certainly understand (the feeling), but it’s a long season and we’re certainly not going to hang our heads down."
There were positives. Mariners starter James Paxton gave up just two hits while throwing 100 pitches in six shutout innings.
"I felt great," he said. "When Servais came up to me and told me I was done, that I was at 100 pitches, I thought, `Really?’ I felt strong all the way through."
Evan Scribner inherited a 2-0 lead to start the seventh inning and immediately found trouble when singles by Yuli Gurriel and Gattis put runners at first and second with no outs.
Marc Rzepczynski replaced Scribner to get a a left-on-left matchup against Josh Reddick, which worked when Reddick flied to center.
When Houston used then switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez as a pinch-hitter for Jake Marisnick, the Mariners countered by bringing in Dan Altavilla. That turned Gonzalez to the left side, and he lined a single to left.
Back to the top of the lineup with the bases loaded and one out.
Springer pulled a two-run double past third base, which tied the game and meant a no-decision for Paxton and Houston starter Charlie Morton.
Altavilla held the tie by striking out Alex Bregman and retiring Jose Altuve on a grounder to short.
The Astros then failed to capitalize on a series of threats over the next few innings. Houston threatened again in the eighth inning after Carlos Correa led off with a single through the left side against reliever James Pazos.
A single by Carlos Beltran put runners at first and second with no outs.
After the runners held on Gurriel’s fly to center, the Mariners replaced Pazos with Casey Fien, who quelled the threat by retiring Gattis on a fly to deep right before striking out Reddick.
The Mariners called on closer Edwin Diaz to start the ninth inning of a tie game, and it wasn’t a smooth ride. He began the inning with a four-pitch walk to Aoki.
Springer’s double-play grounder cleared the bases, but a throwing error by Segura put Bregman on second base with two outs.
Diaz escaped when Altuve hit a squibber in front of the plate that catcher Mike Zunino turned into the final out. Diaz then pitched a scoreless 10th inning
Nick Vincent replaced Diaz to start the 11th inning and gave up a leadoff double to Reddick. Vincent then appeared to have a play at third on Aoki’s bunt but hesitated before settling for the out at first as Reddick took third.
Vincent escaped when Springer’s grounded to short, and Bregman flied to center. Vincent then pitched around a one-out single in the 12th inning before the Mariners, after regaining the lead, turned to De Jong.
All of that came after the Mariners took their first lead of the season — 2-0 — when Segura sliced 1-1 curve to right for a two-run homer in the fifth inning. The 352-foot drive followed a single by Leonys Martin.
Before Segura’s homer, the Mariners had scored only one run in the season’s 22 previous innings.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Springer fought the lights (video link) in snaring Valencia’s one-out liner in the fourth inning with a runner on second base.
PLUS: Paxton was dominant in limiting the Astros to two hits in six shutout innings…Segura had two hits, including a two-run homer…Fien pitched out of an inherited two-on, one-out jam in the eighth inning.
MINUS: Two of the Mariners’ key set-up relievers, Scribner and Altavilla, let a two-run lead slip away in the seventh inning…Robinson Cano was hitless in five at-bats with three strikeouts before drawing a walk in the 13th…Valencia was 0-for-6.
STAT PACK: The Mariners were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and are 1-for-27 in their first three games.
QUOTABLE: "That one stung," Paxton said. "But it’s a long season, and this team is going to be OK. I know we’re going to score a lot more runs this season than we have this first three games. Things are going to come together for this ballclub."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners tweaked their lineup by dropping Martin to ninth and moving Zunino and Jarrod Dyson up one slot. Servais explained: "Mix it up a little bit down there. Leonys batted ninth predominantly last year. So get him in that spot, try to bunch the fast guys together and see if we can create a little something." It worked. Martin and Dyson each had stolen bases. So did Mitch Haniger.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners