After Mark Trumbo hit a second-inning, second-deck home run to tie the game 1-1, Houston ripped into Seattle starter Vidal Nuno for three bombs and crushed the Mariners 8-3 Monday night at Minute Maid Park. In 14 meetings between the teams this season, the AL-West-leading Astros have won 10 with an embarrassing 83-50 lead in runs (box score).
In a 1-1 game, the Mariners had an opportunity to make major hay in their half of the fourth, loading the bases with no outs following a single by Kyle Seager, a Nelson Cruz walk, and Robinson Cano’s base hit. But Franklin Gutierrez hit into a double play and Houston starter Dallas Keuchel fanned Trumbo.
Jed Lowrie and Hank Conger belted back-to-back homers in the Houston fourth and the rout was on.
Trumbo also homered in the ninth, the so-what shot coming with Houston leading 8-1. Starting in center in place of the traded Austin Jackson, CF Brad Miller produced Seattle’s only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4. Cano’s streak of consecutive plate appearances reaching base ended at eight when he grounded out in the second inning. Cano is hitting .344 since July 1. The Mariners went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded five. Ketel Marte, not in the starting lineup but inserted at shortstop after Jackson’s trade to the Chicago Cubs, went 0-for-4 with three whiffs.
Houston’s homers: Lowrie and Conger in the fourth and Carlos Correa, a two-run jolt, in the fifth. Lowrie snapped an 0-for-28 streak. Jose Altuve, who had a Houston-record 45 hits in August, had three hits and a stolen base.
Nuno (0-2, 3.75) threw 105 pitches (a season high), allowing five earned runs on seven hits in six innings. He fanned two and walked two, Rob Rasmussen worked two innings of relief and allowed three earned runs. Keuchel, 12-0 at Minute Maid this season, had eight strikeouts in seven innings.
“I thought he (Nuno) threw the ball pretty good for the most part. That two-run homer (Correa) put the game out of reach for us, but he certainly pitched well enough if we had capitalized on some opportunities. We just couldn’t get the one hit we needed to put us over the hump” — Lloyd McClendon, Mariners manager
“It takes away my center fielder, and that’s pretty tough. His performance on the field was what we thought he could bring to the table. It’s a tough loss, but we put ourselves in this position. If we had played in the first half the way we are playing in the second, this wouldn’t have happened” — McClendon, on the trade
“Giving up those home runs killed me a little bit. I just left the ball up, missing with my fastball” — Nuno
The Mariners fell to 61-71, 12 games behind the Astros, and are 2-3 on the 10-game, 11-day road trip . . . In an attempt to keep Felix Hernandez fresh for the final month, McClendon scotched Hernandez’s normal start Monday and scheduled his ace to pitch Saturday in Oakland. Hernandez, 15-6 with a 3.66 ERA, is 3-3 with a 7.12 ERA over his last six starts and is on pace for his eighth consecutive season with at least 200 innings pitched.
The series’ second game is Tuesday at 5:10 p.m., PT. LHP Roenis Elias (4-7, 4.20) will throw for Seattle opposite RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.75).