Three takeaways regarding the Mariners from Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to Houston in 13 innings at Minute Maid Park:
***Starting strong: Left-hander James Paxton pitched six scoreless innings and looked dominant throughout his 100 pitches while continuing a string of solid starts from the Mariners’ rotation.
Felix Hernandez gave up two runs in five innings Monday before exiting because of a groin ailment (which appears fine; he’ll make his next start). Hisashi Iwakuma then gave up two runs Tuesday in six innings. That’s a major plus.
Being 0-3 is 0-3. Not good by any measurement. But the Mariners would be far more concerned if they were 0-3 after losses of 9-7, 7-6 and 8-5. The general view throughout baseball is the Mariners will hit. The question is their pitching.
***Somebody step up: Manager Scott Servais pointed to his club’s struggles to execute the fundamentals of situational hitting in losing their first three games. That covers much more than hitting with runners in scoring position, but…
The Mariners were 0-for-13 with RISP in Wednesday’s loss and are 1-for-27 in the three games.
They scored the go-ahead run in the 13th inning Wednesday through a gift of four straight walks to start the inning but then got nothing more. Weak fly to short right. Strikeout. Strikeout.
They could have blown the game open. Instead, they left rookie Chase De Jong with no cushion in his big-league debut…and paid the price.
***Defensive concerns: Shortstop Jean Segura has been far from solid thus far. He nonchalanted a routine grounder Tuesday by Jose Altuve and needed a replay challenge to overturn a safe call.
On Wednesday, Segura bounced a throw to first base on Alex Bregman’s two-out grounder in the ninth inning of a tie game.
Maybe a first baseman more experienced than Danny Valencia scoops the ball for an out. The key, though, is a scoop shouldn’t have been necessary. Segura’s error gave Altuve, who had 641 hits over the three previous years, a chance to bat.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners