Yuli Gurriel’s right ankle was bothering him after Houston’s first baseman turned it running to first base in the seventh inning on Saturday night.
But manager AJ Hinch didn’t want to take him out with the game tied after he’d hit the game-winning home run for a 2-1 win in the 10th inning over the Seattle Mariners a night earlier.
Hinch’s instinct to leave Gurriel in the game paid off when he doubled in the 10th inning for his second straight last at-bat game winner, lifting the Astros to a 6-5 win over the Mariners.
“When the game’s on the line he has that (hitter) vibe to him that he’s going to get a good pitch to hit and he’s going to hit it hard,” Hinch said. “Now what’s going to happen, who knows ... but he’s very experienced and very good at what he does. He was operating on basically on one leg; his ankle is bugging him a little bit from earlier in the game. It was an incredible at-bat.”
The Astros hadn’t scored since putting up five runs in the second when Michael Brantley singled to start Houston’s 10th, ending a streak of nine hitless innings over eight appearances for Seattle closer Roenis Elias (2-1). It was the first hit he’d allowed since June 6.
Gurriel then hit a ball just out of reach of diving center fielder Mallex Smith to score Brantley and give Houston the victory. Gurriel is the first Astro to have consecutive last at-bat, game-winning hits since Geoff Blum did it on June 10-11, 2009, against the Cubs.
“I’m not scared to fail, and I always have a positive mindset in these situations,” Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator.
He said that his teammates have been joking with him a lot over the last two games about his clutch hitting, and that Jose Altuve told him that he called both of his game-winning hits this week.
“So let’s see what he announces tomorrow,” Gurriel said with a laugh.
Seattle manager Scott Servais was disappointed that his team couldn’t close it out.
“Roenis tried to get a change-up, just left it up,” he said. “Gurriel is a professional hitter, really good in those spots.”
Houston’s bullpen helped the Astros to the win in a game in which Justin Verlander had an uncharacteristically short outing. Collin McHugh struck out the side in the eighth and Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth. Chris Devenski (2-0) allowed one hit in a scoreless 10th.
Verlander gave up five hits and tied a season high with four runs in five innings for his shortest start since going four innings in a loss to the Rangers on April 2. He struck out five and walked a season-high four in the fourth straight start where he’s given up at least one homer.
Tim Beckham, Domingo Santana and Daniel Vogelbach all homered for the Mariners, who lost their third straight.
Kyle Seager walked with two outs in the second inning before Beckham’s towering shot hit on the wall near the train tracks atop left field to put Seattle up 2-0.
Kikuchi issued consecutive walks to Brantley and Gurriel to open Houston’s second. Josh Reddick reached on a fielding error by Dee Gordon with one out that allowed Brantley to score and cut the lead to 1. Jake Marisnick then slapped a double down the left field line to score two more and give Houston a 3-2 lead.
The speedy Myles Straw singled on an infield grounder before George Springer’s RBI single made it 4-2. The Astros wrapped up their scoring in the inning when Straw scored on a sacrifice fly by Altuve.
A single by Dee Gordon opened Seattle’s third and Smith followed with a double. There was one out in the inning when Gordon scored on a groundout by Santana to cut the lead to 5-3.
There were two outs in the fifth when Santana sent a 94 mph fastball from Verlander into the seats in right field for his 18th homer to get the Mariners within one.
Vogelbach tied it in the seventh with his two-out, two-strike home run to center field off Ryan Pressly.
Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi allowed six hits and five runs — three earned — in five innings.
Mariners: Servais said Gordon left the game with a strained quadriceps muscle.
Astros: OF/DH Yordan Alvarez was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a sore left knee after leaving Thursday’s game in the third inning.
THEY SAID IT
Verlander on Santana’s 405-foot homer off of him: “He put a great swing on it ... it was probably the furthest ball I’ve ever seen hit — (opposite field) off me. Juiced balls or not that went a long freaking way.”
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (9-6, 4.34 ERA) will start for Seattle in the series finale on Sunday. Gonzales allowed eight hits and three runs in five innings of a win over Milwaukee in his last start.
Astros: RHP Gerrit Cole (7-5, 3.42) is scheduled to start for Houston on Sunday. Cole won his third straight decision in his last start over Pittsburgh by yielding seven hits and one run in six innings.