SEATTLE — After having already been shut down twice this season by Justin Verlander, the Seattle Mariners have gone too far this time around.
“I said to clubs before the game, ‘If it looks like you can hit the ball hard, swing it. Take our chance,'” Seattle manager Scott Servis said. “That’s what we did tonight.”
Rookie Julio Rodriguez hit the first of four homers in Seattle for Houston’s ace, and the Mariners beat the Astros 6-1 on Friday night.
Rodriguez, Kyle Lewis, Ty Frances and Tyler Trammell were deep in Verlander, tying his career record for the most homers allowed in a start. Verlander (6-2) entered with seven runs in 51 2/3 innings this season and gave up six to the Mariners through the long ball.
“I think I made a lot of pitches that were very easy to hit and just had to execute a little bit better,” Verlander said.
Rodriguez let the Mariners start with a two-run homer in the first inning of the first game he saw from Verlander. After four hitters, Lewis hit his first homer of the season, also a two-run homer. Lewis’ long ball, estimated at 441 feet, was his first since May 28 last year before a knee injury required surgery and forced the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year to miss the rest of the season .
“We’ve faced him enough times that we know it’s going to be tough,” Lewis said. “So just be as aggressive as possible. That’s one of the things we preached before the game and tried to really go out and execute. It’s actually been a good job to see the transition to the game before the game.”
France added a solo homer in the third (his seventh of the season) and Trammel barely cleared the fence in right midfield in the sixth.
Seattle’s 10 hits was the most Verlander has allowed since April 15, 2017, when he was still pitching for Detroit. The six points scored is the most since 2018, when Verlander also gave up six games to the Mariners.
Verlander started the night with a scoreless 19 innings — the best of his career — and a major league-leading 1.22 ERA. After the three-game winning streak, his ERA ended the night at 2.03.
“They had a great game plan. Throwing me off balance all night. Never getting into a good rhythm,” Verlander said. “I had a kind of quick inning, but other than that, it struggled a bit.”
Seattle’s Chris Fleason, on the other hand, threw a gem to bounce back from three shaky games in a row. Flexen (2-6) allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings with six strikeouts. Flexen has scored five times in 18 innings in three games against Houston this season.
“I’m just trying to flip the script. I’ve been struggling lately and trying to get back to where I was last year,” Flexen said. “Being a better competitor and re-tasking for me and being able to do that tonight.”
Houston’s only run came from Jose Seeri’s outfielder’s selection in the second inning. Houston has been held to 3s or fewer for the seventh time in its past 11 games.
home run incident
Verlander allowed four home runs in a game twice while pitching for Detroit — against Cleveland in 2006 and 2016 — and once with the Astros on July 15, 2018 against the Tigers.
Seattle selected LHP Roenis Elías’ contract from Triple-A Tacoma and named RHP Riley O’Brien for the assignment. Seattle has an open roster after drafting struggling reliever Drew Steckenreed to Tacoma on Thursday. A year ago, Steckenrider was one of Seattle’s top relievers but went 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA.
This is Elias’ second time with the Mariners this season.
Mariners: RHP Ken Giles (finger) is expected to begin rehab assignments mixed with Tacoma and Class A Everett soon. … RHP Erik Swanson (elbow) could be off a mound by the end of the weekend and sent off for rehab assignments next week. … INF Abraham Toro (shoulder) should be ready to exit the 10-day IL next week if eligible.
Astros: RHP Jose Urquidi (4-1, 2.94) is wrapping up his best start of the season, pitching 6 2/3 innings and 10 in a win over Texas and 10 points.
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert (4-2, 2.60) looked to pitch at least seven innings for the third straight game. Gilbert allowed three of five hits in the final game against Boston and made no decision.
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