The Mariners finally located a team they could beat, but it still took an eke job to slip past the horrendous Houston Astros (44-89) Thursday night. Nick Franklin and Franklin Gutierrrez homered in support of Erasmo Ramirez, and the Mariners held on for a 3-2 win at Minute Maid Park, snapping a six-game losing streak.
The most relieved man at the game had to be Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who finally saw his ball club win for the first time since he returned to the team following a month-long absence. Wedge suffered a mild stroke July 22.
“It’s been, what, about a month and a half since I shook hands on the field after a win, and it felt good,” said Wedge.
Franklin hit a solo homer in the first inning and Gutierrez, less than a week removed from the disabled list, pounded a two-run shot in the fourth as the Mariners finally won their 60th game against 73 losses. Gutierrez’s shot was the game winner.
In improving to 5-1, Ramirez worked 5.2 innings in what became his third consecutive quality start. He allowed two runs on five hits, struck out seven and walked two. Ramirez was on track for a big strikeout game until he abandoned his fastball in favor of breaking stuff.
Closer Danny Farquhar sealed the win for Ramirez with his 10th save in 11 opportunities. After opening the ninth with a four-pitch walk, Farquhar fanned Chris Carter and induced Brett Wallace to bang into a double play. Farquhar has recorded a save in each of the last 10 Seattle victories.
Aside from the early home runs, the Mariners didn’t do much offensively against the Astros, scratching out six hits against three Houston pitchers. Gutierrez had three of the six, adding a double and a single in addition to his home run. He had two RBIs.
“Guti was really good today,” said Wedge. “It’s hard to imagine how much better the club would have been if he we’d have him all year, or even the last three years. He was big for us tonight.”
Wedge also lauded his starter, Ramirez, who threw 71 of his 104 pitches for strikes, making only one mistake with a home run ball.
“Erasmo came out there from the first inning on and commanded the ball game,” Wedge said. “That was impressive to see.”
As bad as Seattle was during the recently completed home stand, the Mariners improved to 15-10 in their past 25 road games.
Franklin homered in the first on a full count, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead, and then Gutierrez came back in the fourth with a two-run shot, following a Raul Ibanez double, for a 3-0 lead. Franklin’s homer was his 12th, Gutierrez’s his seventh.
Houston got a run back in the fourth when Jason Castro doubled home L.J. Hoes, who opened the inning with a single and pulled within 3-2 in the fifth when Wallace led off with a homer off Ramirez.
Friday, RHP Taijuan Walker (0-0, 0.00) makes his much-anticipated major league debut for Seattle opposite RHP Brad Peacock (3-4, 5.67).
After the conclusion of the four-game series Sunday, they Mariners move on to Kansas City for a four-game set with the Royals. Seattle has yet to play Kansas City this season.