SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners (13-4) lost their second consecutive game to the Houston Astros, 3-1, on Saturday night at T-Mobile Park, dropping two in a row for the first time this season.
Here are three takeaways from the loss.
1. FELIX THROWS WELL, BUT VERLANDER DEALS
In the fifth career meeting between Astros right-hander Justin Verlander and Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, it was the former who earned the win.
All of the meetings have been played in Seattle, though the four prior to Saturday (2016, 2009, 2008 and 2006) were all when Verlander was with Detroit.
The two pitchers now have two wins, two losses, and on no decision apiece in games they’ve faced each other. Each of the games has been, on average, decided by less than three runs.
“It’s not the first time we’ve faced each other, so I knew it was going to be a close game,” Hernandez said. “I made two mistakes, and that was the game.”
Hernandez (1-1, 4.38 ERA) threw well enough to give the Mariners a chance to win, working through six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits, striking out five and walking one. The two home runs he allowed to Robinson Chirinos and Jose Altuve, and the RBI single he gave up against Michael Brantley were the difference in the game.
“Very encouraged by what I saw tonight,” Servais said. “I thought early in the game he had a really good changeup, had really good bottom to it, some good curveballs, I thought he finished through the fastball well late in the game.
“Really good signs there. And (he) competed his tail off against arguably one of the best right-handers in the game.”
But, Verlander (2-0, 3.52) was dealing in all six of the innings he pitched, taming a Mariners offense that was averaging five runs off of opposing starters entering the game.
At one point, he fanned six consecutive Mariners batters, finishing with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He allowed one earned run on a Mitch Haniger solo home run, and just two hits.
2. BULLPEN STUMPS ASTROS
The two relievers the Mariners brought in after Hernandez — right-handers Brandon Brennan and Connor Sadzeck — threw three scoreless innings to close the game.
“Really excited about the direction both of those guys are headed,” Servais said.
Brennan, who still holds a spotless ERA through 10 2/3 innings in eight appearances, retired the Astros in order in the seventh, including striking out Jake Marisnick.
“Brandon’s been solid all year,” Servais said. “Got on a good roll early in that original trip over in Japan, and the confidence has grown there.”
Sadzeck, who the Mariners recently acquired from Texas has appeared in four games, pitched six innings, and also has yet to allow a run. He sent the Astros down in order in both the eighth and ninth, and struck out Altuve.
“Really like his stuff,” Servais said. “He’s made a couple little tweaks. Our pitching coaches have helped him out. It’s nice to see young players when you give them the opportunity and the confidence starts to grow. It was great to see tonight.
“We threw them through the heart of their lineup. And that’s as good a lineup as anybody in the league. And he just went right after them, it was awesome.”
3. MORE DINGERS
Haniger extended the Mariners’ home run streak to seven consecutive games when he unloaded on a Verlander changeup for his fourth dinger of the season.
“We knew he was going to come out throwing a lot of fastballs,” Hanger said. “Generally mostly fastball, curveball, slider, but just tried to go with the changeup there.”
Haniger said he was just reacting to the pitch, and sent it 403 feet to center field, recording Seattle’s only run of the game.
The Mariners have hit 38 home runs so far this season, and all 12 batters who regularly appear in the lineup — including Jay Bruce (seven), Daniel Vogelbach (six), Tim Beckham (four), Edwin Encarnacion (four), Haniger (four), Domingo Santana (four), Ryon Healy (three), Omar Narvaez (two), Dee Gordon (one), Dylan Moore (one), Tom Murphy (one) and Mallex Smith (one) — have contributed.
The Mariners hold the MLB record for most consecutive games with a home run to begin a season.