SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners (13-3) opened a six-game homestand with a 10-6 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night at T-Mobile Park, snapping a six-game winning streak and dropping their third loss of the season.
Here are three takeaways from the loss.
1. LEBLANC LEAVES WITH INJURY
Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc left Friday night’s game in the fifth inning after straining his right oblique.
The 34-year-old left-hander retired two batters in the inning before throwing two pitches to Tyler White — both of which he said felt strange. The second pitch to White, a change-up, was well high and outside of the strike zone. As LeBlanc finished his pitching motion, he grimaced and grabbed at his right side.
“Obviously the change-up kind of sailed on him,” Mariners catcher Tom Murphy said. “The first pitch he didn’t have command of the whole night, so you knew something was wrong.”
LeBlanc was diagnosed with a right oblique strain — and injury that can keep pitchers out for an extended period — and will have an MRI on Saturday to determine severity.
Mariners manager Scott Servais assumed LeBlanc would likely miss his next scheduled start Wednesday, but did not have a clear plan Friday night of who would replace him.
He said he would speak with Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto about how to move forward Saturday, but another roster move is likely.
Seattle optioned right-hander Erik Swanson, who has been a starter at the minor-league level, back to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday after one relief appearance Thursday in Kansas City.
Mariners top prospect Justus Sheffield started Friday night’s game in Tacoma, and appears in the same spot in the Rainers’ rotation (fourth) as LeBlanc does in Seattle’s.
Both could be seen as possible candidates to fill in depending on the severity of LeBlanc’s injury, but the club had made no decision as of Friday night.
“That’s what the guys in the minor leagues are there for,” Servais said. “You’re never going to get through just with five starters, so you start looking at some other guys and some other options there, and again, give guys opportunity and see who takes it.”
LeBlanc completed 4 2/3 innings before exiting. Apart from giving up a two-run homer to Geroge Springer in the second, Murphy said LeBlanc’s command was on. He allowed the two earned runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one. He threw 92 pitches.
2. DOUBLE GRAND SLAM
Houston combined for two grand slams against Seattle’s bullpen, marking the third time in club history (Oakland in 2007, Boston in 1999) the Mariners have allowed multiple grand slams in a game.
Jose Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP, belted the second grand slam of his career to left field in the sixth, giving the Astros a 6-3 lead. And, after the Mariners had cut Houston’s lead to 6-5 in the seventh, Yuli Gurriel silenced the crowd in the eighth by launching the fourth grand slam of his career.
Both grand slams came against Mariners relief pitchers making their season debuts.
Right-hander Shawn Armstrong, who served up the first to Altuve, returned to the club Friday after recovering from an oblique injury. He said he felt healthy in the outing, and the home run pitch to Altuve was the only pitch he felt like he missed on.
Gurriel launched his long ball against right-hander Ruben Alaniz, who was making his MLB debut after being called up from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day.
“We just couldn’t finish the innings off there,” Servais said. “The two grand slams obviously was the story of the game for them tonight.”
3. HOME RUN STREAK EXTENDED
As deflating as the loss was with LeBlanc’s injury and Houston’s two four-run smashes, the Mariners did keep their home run streak alive.
Seattle has now homered in each of its first 16 games, and leads the majors with 37 total this season. Murphy launched his first home run of the season to left in the bottom of the ninth to extend the streak.
“Murphy’s got a lot of pop,” Servais said. “I’d kind of forgotten about the home run thing at that point in the game, but he does. Tom continues to show well, and I like what he brings behind the plate. … I like where he’s headed.”
Murphy is the 12th Mariner to hit a home run this season, joining Jay Bruce (seven), Daniel Vogelbach (six), Tim Beckham (four), Edwin Encarnacion (four), Domingo Santana (four), Mitch Haniger (three), Ryon Healy (three), Omar Narvaez (two), Dee Gordon (one), Dylan Moore (one) and Mallex Smith (one).