In the process of falling to 45-45 on Friday night, Seattle got an inefficient outing from starter James Paxton while starting shortstop Ketel Marte hobbled off the field in pain midgame with an injury.
In their first game back from the All-Star break, a period of time that was supposed to return the team rested, refreshed and ready to refind its success from April and May and move on from a miserable June swoon, the Mariners started off with a disappointing 7-3 loss to the Astros — a team they’re trying to catch in the standings.
And in the process of falling to 45-45 on Friday night, Seattle got an inefficient outing from starter James Paxton while starting shortstop Ketel Marte hobbled off the field in pain midgame with an injury.
It was far from an optimal start to the second half of Seattle’s season.
“We just didn’t get it done tonight,” manager Scott Servais said.
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With two outs in the third bottom of the third, Marte smoked a line drive over the head of Carlos Gomez in center field. It was a sure double and Marte tried to push for a triple after a slight hesitation rounding second.
Initially, it appeared Marte had that triple — beating out a ridiculous throw from Gomez from the warning track — with a feet-first, pop-up slide into the bag. But on the play, Marte’s right foot came up just short of the bag, causing his ankle to buckle and twist as his momentum carried his upper body forward as he stood up. He fell onto his chest and was in obvious pain with third-base coach Manny Acta signaling for the trainer.
Even worse, a replay showed that Luis Valbuena was able to tag Marte on top of the head before he was on the bag. So he was out, and the inning was over.
Shawn O’Malley had to replace Marte at shortstop. The Mariners’ training staff labeled the injury as a mild right-ankle sprain and listed him as day to day.
“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Servais said. “There’s not a lot of swelling and all the good things you want to hear on that. Hopefully it really is day to day.”
Said Marte: “It’s good now. I feel better now. When that happened, it hurt. I don’t know what happened with my foot. I was trying to move my leg and it hurt really bad.”
It was the second time this season that a slide had injured Marte. He previously suffered a sprained thumb while sliding into a base headfirst.
“We’ve seen a few of those from him,” Servais said. “He’s got to be a little bit cleaner in how he slides.”
Paxton delivered an uneven start, going five innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with a walk (intentional), a strikeout and three wild pitches. It featured a five-run fifth inning with three wild pitches that left the crowd of 29,217 unimpressed.
“I left some pitches over the middle of the plate,” Paxton said. “I just made mistakes. I made some bad pitches. The wild pitches weren’t good. I felt like I was maybe placing the ball too much. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of life on my stuff tonight.”
After allowing a leadoff homer to George Springer just five pitches into the game, Paxton used his defense and a few double plays to work the second, third and fourth innings scoreless. The outing fell apart in an interminable fifth inning filled with hittable pitches, wild pitches and runs.
Paxton gave up back-to-back doubles to Evan Gattis and Jake Marisnick to make it 2-0. It looked as though he might limit the damage to one run when O’Malley was able to throw out Marisnick at home on an infield ground ball. But a two-out single from Marwin Gonzalez and a wild pitch put runners on second and third. After falling behind 2-0 to Jose Altuve, the Mariners intentionally walked the diminutive slugger. Perhaps it was a bad sign when Paxton nearly threw the ball over the head of catcher Chris Iannetta on the first of those two intentional balls.
With the bases now loaded, Paxton buried a curveball near the back foot of batter Carlos Correa. Iannetta couldn’t block the wild pitch, allowing Springer to race home.
It only got worse.
Correa golfed a low 2-1 cut fastball off the wall in left-center for a double to score two more runs. Paxton then scored Correa from second himself, spiking a fastball about six inches in front of the plate. The ball ricocheted off Iannetta’s shin guard on his block attempt and ended up near the Astros’ dugout. Correa read it and never stopped running until he reached home, making it 6-0.
The M’s showed a little moxie, cutting the 6-0 lead in half with three runs in the bottom of the fifth against Astros starter Doug Fister. Dae-Ho Lee led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third, O’Malley put together a tough at-bat, eventually slicing a double into left-center to make it 6-3.