Mariners make early runs stand up, open homestand with tight win over Astros


SEATTLE — The angry boos rained down for Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman as loud as ever. And as Andres Muñoz fired triple-digit fastball and nasty sliders in the ninth inning, the chants of “Let’s Go Mariners! Let’s Go Mariners!” filled T-Mobile Park.

There have been larger crowds this season, but the 23,814 in attendance made their presence known and felt.

The Houston Astros were in town. Hatred was palpable. And the Seattle Mariners’ 3-2 victory? Well, that was met with a standing ovation.

Competing with Houston let alone beating the perennial division winners was a problem in years past. The Mariners have proved they are at the same level, if not better, over the past two seasons.

And a win now? Well, it feels a little sweeter and has a little more meaning with the Astros chasing Seattle in the standings.

The Mariners jumped all over Astros starter Framber Valdez in the first inning. J.P. Crawford ripped a ground ball past Jose Abreu at first base for a leadoff double. After Dylan Moore popped up to second, Julio Rodriguez slashed a single to right past Altuve to put runners on the corners. Mitch Garver worked a walk to load the bases for Cal Raleigh.

When Raleigh smacked a fastball from Valdez toward the gap in right-center, it looked like he would have at least a two-run double if not clear the bases. Instead, Jake Meyers made a brilliant running/lunging catch at the warning track. Raleigh had to settle for a sac fly and a 1-0 lead.

But his teammates kept the pressure on Valdez. Ty France followed with a ground ball through the left side to score Rodriguez from third base to make it 2-0. Mitch Haniger made it 3-0 with a crisp single up the middle to score Garver from second.

When Valdez got rookie Ryan Bliss to ground out to second base in his first MLB at-bat, he had thrown 25 pitches. That number would grow to 43 after he needed 18 pitches to work a scoreless second.

But the All-Star lefty was able to find some rhythm, command and efficiency. He wouldn’t allow another run the rest of his outing. He retired 11 in a row at one point and worked six complete innings on 96 pitches. He walked three and struck out four.

Given the early run support, Bryce Miller cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one base runner on a one-out walk to Kyle Tucker in the first inning. But his streak of 12 hitters retired in a row came to an end with a single from Meyers with one out in the fifth inning. Jon Singleton and Abreu each followed with singles to get Meyers home for the Astros first run. Victor Caratini scored Singleton from third with a deep sac fly to make it 3-2. The inning looked like it might spin out of control when Altuve doubled to left field. But Abreu could only get to third on the play even with two-outs. Miller was able to retire the dangerous Tucker with a ground out to second to end the inning

Miller came back and worked a scoreless inning despite a throwing error by Bliss and an awkward infield single off the bat of Meyers that should’ve been an out.

His final line: six innings pitched, two runs allowed on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. It was his sixth quality start of the season and the Mariners 32nd quality start this season, moving them to the most in MLB just ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies at 31.

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