Down 3-2 entering the ninth, the Houston Astros rallied for three runs off Seattle closer Danny Farquhar and defeated the Mariners 6-4 Monday night at Safeco Field. Farquhar, who entered with 13 saves in 14 chances, retired the first batter, Brandon Barnes, on three pitches, then came unglued as the Astros parlayed two walks, an RBI single, two errors and a two-run single by Jonathan Villar into the winning runs.
Houston sent eight to the plate in the inning, scoring its final run on one of the oddest plays imaginable.
With one out and the Astros leading 5-3, Trevor Crowe hit a popup into foul territory along the first base line that Justin Smoak snagged for the second out. Smoak went home with the ball in an attempt to get Villar, breaking for home. But Smoak’s throw hit Crowe, who had moved up the first-base line and crouched in foul territory to get out of the way of a play. The ball caromed off the unsuspecting Crowe, allowing Villar to score.
Until that point, the Mariners seemed a lock to nail down the win. After trailing 2-1 early, they jumped ahead in the seventh 3-2 on rookie Abraham Almonte’s first major league homer.
After Charlie Furbush escaped a jam in the eighth, not allowing a run after the Astros had runners at second and third with no outs, Farquhar came on and the unraveling began.
Rookie Taijuan Walker, pitching his final game of the season (the Mariners are shutting him down after he reach an innings limit), worked 5.0 innings in his Safeco Field debut, allowing two earned runs on five hits with a career-high eight strikeouts and one walk. But he departed in a 2-1 hole and stood to take the loss until Almonte went deep against Houston’s Chia-Jen Lo.
The Mariners fell to 65-79, to 10-7 against the last-place Astros and to 34-34 against the AL West.
ARMS: The Mariners used seven pitchers and Farquhar took the loss, falling to 0-3. He allowed four runs, three earned with one strikeout and two walks.
BATS: The Mariners had eight hits, including two home runs. Brad Miller hit his sixth, a ninth-inning shot. Almonte and Miller had two hits. The Mariners stranded eight and drew eight walks, but none came around to score.
QUOTES: The two walks, that was the difference. Danny (Farquhar) was just a little bit too fine” – Eric Wedge, Seattle manager.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things, but not that” — Wedge, on the ninth-inning play when Smoak caught a popup in foul territory and hit the batter with his throw to the plate
“He did a good job of using all of his pitches. We’ve seen three different outings from him and he’s thrown three different types of games, all good” — Wedge on Walker
NOTES: The Mariners announced Felix Hernandez will not make his scheduled start Wednesday. Hernandez, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 2, is suffering from a mild oblique strain. He will be re-evaluated during the Mariners series at St. Louis, which gets underway Friday.
NEXT: The series continues Tuesday with a 7:10 p.m. start. LHP Joe Saunders (11-13, 4.95) will throw for Seattle opposite RHP Jordan Lyles (6-7, 5.08).