Everything seemed to be going the Mariners’ way Tuesday: They held a 4-2 lead over Houston entering the bottom sixth and Toronto already defeated Baltimore, the team Seattle is chasing for the AL’s second wild card spot. Then all suddenly went awry. Helped by errors from SS Ketel Marte and 1B Adam Lind, the Astros batted around for six runs (four unearned) off Felix Hernandez for 8-4 victory at Minute Maid Park (box).
The Mariners fell to 83-74 and are two games behind the Orioles (85-72), who dropped a 5-1 decision to Toronto (87-70), which retained control of the AL’s top wild card spot.
Detroit (84-73) won 12-0 over a Cleveland team celebrating its AL Central championship by resting some starters. The Tigers moved a game up on Seattle, one game behind the Orioles. The Astros (83-75) pulled within 2.5 games of Baltimore and are a half-game behind the Mariners.
So Seattle needs to make up at least two games with five to play — the series-ender with Houston Wednesday and four against Oakland over the weekend.
Ahead 4-2 in the sixth, the Mariners began their unraveling when Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa opened with singles. After Hernandez struck out Evan Gattis, Yulieski Gurriel hit a ball to Marte at short that should have been a double play. But Marte threw wildly to Lind at first, allowing Altuve to cross the plate.
Pinch hitter Alex Bergman then tied the game 4-4 with a single to left. After Jake Marisnick reached on an error by Lind, George Springer followed with a two-run double to the deep corner in right. Marwin Gonzalez added a two-run single that knocked Hernandez out of the game.
The Mariners manufactured runs on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz (first inning), an RBI double by Nori Aoki (second), a Seth Smith sacrifice fly (second) and an RBI double by Lind (third) . . . The Mariners collected 11 hits and received multi-hit games from Robinson Cano (two doubles), Cruz (2-for-4), and Lind (2-for-4) . . . The Mariners went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position — in their past eight they are 11-for-69 (.159) — and stranded six . . . Seattle fanned six times, 10 fewer than Monday night.
Hernandez (11-7, 3.71), slammed 6-0 in his previous start against the Astros (Sept. 16), did not have a sharp outing. He allowed eight runs (four unearned) on 10 hits (five in the sixth inning) in 5.2 innings. He struck out three, walked two and threw 97 pitches, 57 for strikes. Hernandez tied season highs by allowing 10 hits and eight runs . . . The Astros have scored six or more runs off Hernandez in three consecutive outings . . . Altuve, a lifetime .500 hitter against Hernandez entering the game, went 2-for-3 with an RBI . . . Drew Storen, Dan Altivilla and Vidal Nuno combined for 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
The Mariners, missing a chance for a third consecutive win, are 7-11 against the Astros this season with one contest remaining Wednesday . . . The Mariners 25-18-8 in overall series . . . . For the fourth time this season, the Mariners failed to reach 11 games above .500.
The finale game of the three-game set is 11:10 a.m., PT Wednesday. LHP James Paxton (5-7, 3.72) will oppose RHP Doug Fister (12-12, 4.42). The Mariners return to Safeco Field at 7:10 p.m. Thursday for a season-ending, four-game series with the Oakland Athletics.