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August 31, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Game thread: Mariners 3, Astros 1, FINAL

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You don’t want to jump all over the Mariners when they actually win games — and they have notched three in a row — but it’s toughed to get too jazzed up over this 3-1 snoozefest they pulled out over the Houston Astros.

The Mariners had three softly-hit singles in their three-run first inning, then just three singles the rest of the night — one of them an infield hit — but it was still enough to beat the worst team in baseball.

My vote for Player of the Game goes to shortstop Brad Miller, whose two plays ranging deep in the hole to his right tonight likely impacted the outcome. The first one, in the fourth inning, saved Joe Saunders a run. The second one, in the eighth, barely helped notch a fielder’s choice and kept the Astros from putting two on with one out.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m only as good as the source material.

5:42 p.m.: Joe Saunders has given up a plethora of baserunners yet again and it finally cost him in the fourth — albeit after Nick Franklin dropped a throw to second when the Mariners had a runner picked off. Brandon Barnes hit a one out single in the fourth, then took third on a Jake Elmore single to right.

The Mariners had Elmore picked off moments later — hung up between first and second — but Franklin dropped a throw from catcher Humberto Quintero and the unearned run scored on the error.

Saunders has been victimized by mistakes by his young middle infield before. But moments after the error, shortstop Brad Miller saved his pitcher another run allowed when he ranged far to his right for a Cody Clark grounder and threw the slow-moving catcher out by an eyelash at first base.

So, it’s now a 3-1 game after four innings.

3:29 P.M.: Dallas Keuchel threw 35 pitches in the first inning, continuing a second straight night of awful starting pitching by the Astros, and the Mariners, predictably, lead it 3-0 a half-frame in. Keuchel didn’t exactly get blasted, he just had trouble throwing strikes.

Brad Miller blooped a single to left, then Kyle Seager hit a one-out grounder through the right side to put runners at the corners. Kendrys Morales then grounded one deep in the hole at shortstop and Marwin Gonzalez threw the ball away at second base on what was ruled a hit and brought the first run home. Raul Ibanez then walked to load the bases and Nick Franklin walked as well to force in a second run.

Dustin Ackley grounded out to first base after that — on the 32nd pitch of the inning by Keuchel — to score the third marker before Abraham Almonte struck out.

3:05 p.m.: Joe Saunders takes the mound tonight against some Astros pitcher whose name we won’t care about in two more years, so it really doesn’t matter. Saunders got rocked here in a start back in April, but it’s still the Astros so he’s got a good shot at pitching his team to a third straight win.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge confirmed down on the field pregame that Tom Wilhelmsen will be among the players added to the roster in September. Wedge didn’t say much beyond that, only that Wilhelmsen will work in relief but won’t be closing games.

In other news, Michael Saunders has a tight hamstring so he isn’t in the lineup tonight. Nick Franklin has also finally been dropped out of the top of the order back down to the No. 6 spot, in light of his recent slump. Franklin Gutierrez is up in the No. 2 position.




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