Mariners Insider Blog

Turning back the Clock chimes an end to Mariners’ winning streak

George Springer, Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick scored on Brian McCann’s decisive three-RBI double in the seventh inning.
George Springer, Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick scored on Brian McCann’s decisive three-RBI double in the seventh inning. AP

It’s the Mariners’ 40th anniversary season, which is why their "Turn Back the Clock" promotion Saturday included 1977 replica uniforms, an organist and a trident logo cap giveaway.

Lots of other pop-culture stuff, too, including some music that, trust me on this, many of those who lived through the era would prefer to forget.

One other point: Those 1977 Mariners lost a lot.

The current Mariners lost on Saturday, too, falling 5-2 to the Houston Astros, which snapped a six-game winning streak. The difference had nothing to do with disco or tridents but rather a great play almost made.

But not quite. That was this game for the Mariners: Not quite.

The Astros, leading 2-1, had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning when Brian McCann pulled a pitch from Steve Cishek toward the right-field corner.

"Unfortunately, I fell behind 2-0," Cishek said. "That was the killer. If I was ahead, I would have probably thrown a fastball in on him. But with him looking at two backdoor sliders, not even offering at it, I’ve got to go back there again.

"He just got enough of it."

Right fielder Mitch Haniger closed on the ball after a long run and made a lunging dive. Haniger had the ball in his glove for a moment but couldn’t hold it as he hit the ground.

"I thought I had a shot," Haniger said. "I knew it was going to be close. I didn’t know if I was going to have to dive or not. Obviously, I had to leave my feet for it. Just unable to bring it in."

The result was a three-run double.

"I thought it was a double off the bat," McCann said, "and then (Haniger) kept gaining on it. He caught it and then, obviously, hitting the ground, it came out, which is nice."

It amounted to the decisive punch, although the Mariners made things interesting in the ninth inning when they scored once and had the bases loaded against Astros closer Ken Giles.

Chooch Ruiz lined a ball just foul up the left-field line before taking a third strike that ended the game,

"There are some nights when it literally is a game of inches," manager Scott Servais said. "Haniger gave everything he had to try to catch that ball in right field. He just didn’t quite get there.

"Then Chooch misses a big hit late by maybe a foot."

The Mariners trailed 2-0 early on and didn’t get a baserunner against Houston starter Lance McCullers (7-1) until Nelson Cruz opened the fifth inning with a slow roller to third.

Alex Bregman’s only play was a barehanded pickup and throw — and the throw was offline. Cruz was credited with a single.

Kyle Seager followed with a double over the head of center fielder George Springer, which moved Cruz to third.

McCullers pitched out of it. He struck out Haniger and, when Jarrod Dyson grounded to second, Cruz broke for home. The Astros trapped Cruz in a rundown for the second out. Taylor Motter then struck out.

But the Mariners kept coming and knocked out McCullers in the sixth when Ruiz led off with a double and went to third on Jean Segura’s single off the glove of shortstop Carlos Correa.

Will Harris replaced McCullers and struck out Ben Gamel, but Robinson Cano pulled an RBI single through the right side that moved Segura to third. Harris avoided further damage by getting Cruz to ground into a double play.

All of that was prelude to the seventh, when the Astros struck for three runs against three Mariners relievers.

Tony Zych gave up a one-out single to Springer, which brought Marc Rzepczynski in to face Josh Reddick, who had a two-run homer in the third inning against starter Sam Gaviglio (3-2).

Ruiz tipped Reddick’s bat for catcher’s interference, which put runners on first and second. In came Cishek, who struck out Jose Altuve on a borderline pitch.

Altuve dropped his bat and barked hard at umpire Mark Ripperger, and the Pitch f/x computer suggested he had a point. Ripperger let him bark.

Correa then flicked a single into right that loaded the bases for McCann — and it was 5-1.

The Mariners played the Belushi clip from Animal House going into the bottom of the ninth: "Nothing’s over until we say it’s over! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

It didn’t work. Not quite.

PLAY OF THE GAME: There’s no guarantee, of course, that the Mariners rally to win if Haniger completes a great catch and ends the seventh inning, but…

"Baseball is a game of inches, man," Cishek said. "Haniger almost made an outstanding play."

PLUS: Gaviglio allowed two earned runs in six innings, which marked the sixth time in eight starts that he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs…Mike Zunino’s bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning produced his 30th RBI in June…Cruz went 2-for-4 with a double. 

MINUS: Gamel’s hitting streak ended at 15 games when he went 0-for-4…Dyson and Motter were each 0-for-3, although Dyson drew a walk in the ninth inning…Ruiz’s error on catcher’s interference fueled Houston’s three-run seventh inning.

STAT PACK: The Mariners didn’t hit a home run for the first time in nine games…the Astros have won 13 of their last 16 road games.

QUOTABLE: McCullers on the Mariners: "Top to bottom, that’s probably the best lineup that we face all year. Honestly, top to bottom there’s not really a huge break anywhere in there."

SHORT HOPS: First baseman Danny Valencia was scratched prior to the game because of a sore right wrist. Taylor Motter replaced Valencia…Houston also scratched its first baseman, Marwin Gonzalez, because of tightness in his right oblique. Yuri Gurriel started in his place…the Astros made four roster moves regarding right-handed pitchers prior to the game: McCullers was activated from the disabled list; Jordan Jankowski was recalled from Triple-A Fresno; Brad Peacock was placed on paternity leave; and Joe Musgrove was optioned to Fresno…

ON DECK: The Mariners and Astros conclude their three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Left-hander Ariel Miranda (6-3 with a 4.04 ERA) will oppose Houston right-hander Francis Martes (2-0, 5.02).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners