Houston’s All-Star pitcher Dallas Keuchel held the reeling Mariners to one run in seven innings.
HOUSTON — On paper, victory seemed unlikely for the Mariners going into Monday night.
On the field, it pretty much followed that form in an 8-3 loss for Seattle.
On one side of Minute Maid Park, the American League West-leading Houston Astros were starting their ace Dallas Keuchel — one of three favorites to win the American League Cy Young Award.
On the opposite side, the reeling Mariners, fresh off the firing of their general manager and fighting to stay ahead of the A’s and Red Sox for the worst record in baseball, were going with lefty reliever Vidal Nuno in a spot start.
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Nuno was replacing Felix Hernandez, who was being rested.
Few things about what followed would be considered surprising.
The Astros, who came into the game second in the AL in home runs with 176, roughed up Nuno for five runs on seven hits, including three long balls, during his six innings pitched.
It actually could have been worse, considering Nuno had runners on base every inning.
After Houston took a 1-0 first-inning lead on a sacrifice fly from Evan Gattis, the Mariners answered with perhaps the game’s most stunning aspect, at least statistically.
With two outs in the top of the second, Mark Trumbo ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Keuchel, driving it over the wall in right-center for his ninth homer since joining the Mariners. Trumbo’s raw power doesn’t make the result surprising. But it was atypical for Keuchel. It was the first home run that he had allowed at Minute Maid this season.
Trumbo is now 6-for-13 against Keuchel with three homers for his career.
“I’ve gotten a few pitches I could work with, but he’s got me quite a few times too,” Trumbo said.
It was the 10th homer Keuchel allowed in 1871/3 innings pitched this season.
And that’s all the Mariners would muster against the All-Star lefty. Keuchel worked seven innings, allowing the one run on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts to improve to 16-6 on the season, while lowering his ERA to 2.24.
His teammates provided him plenty of cushion. Jed Lowrie and Hank Conger hit solo homers in the fourth inning to push the lead to 3-1. In the fifth inning, rookie Carlos Correa hit his 16th homer of the season.
In the seventh with Keuchel starting to labor, Seattle put runners on first and second, but Jesus Sucre hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Seattle lefty Rob Rasmussen gave up three runs in the seventh as the game turned into an 8-1 rout.
In the ninth, facing former Mariner Oliver Perez, Trumbo hit his second homer of the game — a two-run shot over the wall in left-center to cut the lead to 8-3.