April 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM
Mariners get only five hits, but still shut Astros out in home opener
Tough to say the Mariners cured all that ailed them tonight, given the rather weak caliber of their opponent and the fact Seattle only managed five hits.
But it was a more varied offensive attack we saw from all parts of the order tonight — not the home-run-or-nothing approach of the past two games — as the Mariners won 3-0 to improve their early-season record to 4-4.
They did it with Joe Saunders tossing 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, though he did allow six hits and walked a batter. But they don’t call this Houston squad the “Lastros” for nothing and even when they got runners on, you never really got the sense they were a threat to do anything with them.
In essence, they were the Mariners of the past three or four seasons.
Saunders improved to 7-0 lifetime with a 1.91 ERA in 10 career starts at Safeco Field and he did it with help from an offense that got contributions from the top, bottom and middle of the order tonight.
Up top, Michael Saunders reached base twice on singles his firs two times up and scored on hits each time by No. 3 hitter Kendrys Morales. For Morales, that’s now five hits his last two games, including two doubles and a home run.
Tonight, Morales got Saunders in on a seeing-eye grounder the first time. But the second time, in the third, he absolutely smoked a line drive double to the left-center gap.
Then, in the fifth, you had No. 8 hitter Dustin Ackley reaching on a single, then No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan moving him up and reaching safely as well on a bunt in which the attempt to nab the lead runner failed.
After Ackley advanced to third on a Saunders flyout, Gutierrez wasted little time laying a squeeze bunt down that brought Ackley home for the game’s final run.
Gutierrez also made a sprawling, fully extended catch in the third inning to rob Ronny Cedeno of an extra-base hit.
The Lastros struck out seven more times, giving them 91 in seven games. That’s the kind of team the Mariners need to play right now as they still work out some of the more obvious early-season defficiencies in their game.