Hisashi Iwakuma left with the game scoreless after seven and Charlie Furbush allowed two runs in the eighth to trail 2-0 as we head to Seattle’s final turn at-bat. Jose Altuve and Jason Castro hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning off, bringing in the game’s first run. Castro then took third on a flyout to right, setting the stage for the most impressive play of the game.
Castro broke for home plate with pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes up, but the ball was bunted foul. Not to be deterred, the Astros put the squeeze on again for the very next pitch and this time Barnes laid down a beauty of a bunt towards the right side of the mound.
The Mariners had no chance at preventing the second run from scoring on the play. But Justin Smoak, Furbush and Nick Franklin all converged on the bunt at the same time, leaving no one to cover first base. So, Barnes gets a single and an RBI.
The Mariners have not scored in 16 consecutive innings here and have just six singles since the first inning last night — two of them infield hits.
12:20 p.m.: Two teams with their share of offensive issues are strutting their stuff today in a game still scoreless in the fifth inning. The Astros keep getting all of their baserunners with two outs off Hisashi Iwakuma, while the Mariners are having trouble generating any offense — period. Of the two Seattle singles, one was of the infield variety. So, that’s eight singles for the Mariners dating back to Friday night’s game and few of them have been of the hard-hit variety.
The Astros, meanwhile, are now 0-for-their-last-22 with runners in scoring position.
11:22 a.m.: One of the tragic parts of this season, when the Mariners look back on it, will likely be that they didn’t do more to capitalize early on having the Houston Astros in their division for 19 games. The Mariners have now beaten the Astros six straight times at this ballpark and three straight in this series despite not really playing all that well.
The Astros, as expected, are a joke. On-pace to lose 109 games as of today and with a payroll that’s getting the team all types of bad press and leading to grumblings about how a minimum payroll threshold in baseball wouldn’t be a bad idea. That’s a debate for another day, but as far as the Mariners go, that 2-4 start against the Astros in April probably did as much as the Franklin Gutierrez injury in knocking Seattle off-balance to a point the team never quite recovered from.
Now, with any meaningful games having long since passed and the Mariners double-digits out in the division and wild-card races, they are finally owning the Astros like every other team in baseball. Alas, it’s too late. You look at how the Oakland Athletics have gone 12-3 against the Astros, including 6-0 in April, and you can see how they parlayed that strong start and divisional edge to their benefit.
Oh, well, for the Mariners, there’s always next year. As for this year, if they run the table on Houston their remaining four games this season, it could help the Mariners avoid 90 losses.