HOUSTON — A series that had already lived up to the early expectations of lopsided outcomes while displaying the discrepancies of talent and trajectory of the two teams was taken to a different level of dominance/ignominy Saturday night.
For the second time this season, or to be exact, the second time in 23 days, the Seattle Mariners were held hitless in a game by a combination of pitchers in a 9-0 defeat.
Aaron Sanchez, who was acquired by the Houston Astros from Toronto at the Wednesday deadline, delivered an impressive debut, holding the Mariners hitless for six innings. He did hit a batter and issued two walks. With his pitch count at 92, Astros manager A.J. Hinch removed his new starter.
“He certainly wasn’t dominating anybody coming into the game, so we expected to do a lot more against him and just weren’t able to get it done,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
The trio of Will Harris, Joe Biagini, who was also acquired along with Sanchez from Toronto, and Chris Devenski secured the no-hitter, each working a hitless inning.
If this seems familiar, well, it happened to the Mariners on July 12 in Anaheim when two Angels pitchers — opener Taylor Cole and finisher Felix Pena — combined to hold Seattle hitless in a 13-0 defeat.
It’s the fifth time in franchise history that the Mariners have been no-hit. The last time a team was no-hit twice in one season was the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers, who were no-hit twice in the span of 10 days, which would be worse. But the 2015 Dodgers also won 92 games and won the National League West. The Mariners, well, they are now 47-66 and not the worst team in baseball because four other teams are better at losing.
Mariners starter Marco Gonzales took the loss, lasting just five innings.
Gonzales deserved a better first inning than what occurred. After walking George Springer to start the game, Gonzales appeared to have struck out Jose Altuve on a check swing.
With Altuve already walking toward the dugout, knowing he’d gone around on the pitch, home-plate umpire Jim Wolf appealed to first-base umpire Nick Mahrley, who surprisingly flashed a safe sign, meaning he didn’t think Altuve went.
Altuve shook his head and gave a little smirk while walking back to the box. The Mariners dugout exploded in anger and Gonzales icily stared down Mahrley, who is normally a Trilpe-A umpire, for several seconds. Of course Altuve took advantage of the extra strike, smoking a double to the gap.
Michael Brantley followed with a fly ball to left field that Ryan Court misplayed, allowing it to get over his head for an RBI double.
Alex Bregman scored the second run of the inning with a ground ball to short and Yordan Alvarez singled up the middle to make it 3-0.
Gonzales finally retired the next two batters to end an inning that should’ve gone: walk, strikeout, fly out to left and ground out to shortstop for zero runs.
After the avoidable first-inning damage, Gonzales would fight through four more innings, giving up just one more run on a wall-scraping solo homer to right field that made it 4-0. His night was over after the fifth, having thrown 100 pitches and allowing eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts.