HOUSTON — What the Seattle Mariners didn’t need Sunday was for the law of averages to catch up with left-hander Roenis Elias. But the law did. And it was brutal.
Houston 13, Mariners 0.
It was as bad as that reads, too.
“When it’s 13-0, not a lot goes right,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “You have two options. You can either hang your head and feel sorry for yourself, or you can get back to work and keep grinding.”
It took a lot of grinding Sunday just to get through nine innings.
Elias gave up three runs in the first inning, two more in the third and failed to survive a five-run fifth that saw the Astros also rough up reliever Danny Farquhar.
The Mariners trailed 11-0 before they got their first hit, even though Houston rookie Lance McCullers provided early counter-punch chances by walking the leadoff hitter in the second, third and fourth innings.
“He made pitches when he needed to,” Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson said. “He kept us off balance by throwing his curveball. His fastball kind of got in on you.”
McCullers (3-1) departed after throwing 90 pitches in five hitless innings. Tony Sipp lost the no-hitter when Jackson drove a one-out double to left in the sixth inning. The Mariners got just one other hit — a single in the seventh by Seager. They didn’t score, though, for the third time in four games.
“You get down 8-, 10-, 12-0,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “the at-bats become very tough. It’s hard to judge offense on a day like this.”
Elias (3-4) was long overdue for a clunker. He had a 2.57 ERA over his previous 19 starts and had allowed more than three runs only once in that span. (He gave up four on May 30 in a 4-3 loss to Cleveland.)
Well … this should square accounts.
“Very bad day,” he said. “Today, nothing was working.”
Elias gave up eight runs (seven earned) in just 3⅓ innings, which spiked his ERA from 2.79 to 3.67 in one miserable afternoon.
It made for a depressing end to a roller-coaster weekend for the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
On Friday, they saw their ace, Felix Hernandez, fail to survive an eight-run first inning in a 10-0 loss. They rebounded Saturday with five first-inning runs in an 8-1 victory behind rookie Mike Montgomery.
It was then, after that victory, that McClendon went to the whip by criticizing his club for failing to show a “killer instinct” after closing the game with six scoreless innings.
And this happens.
“Turn the page,” McClendon said, “and get ready for San Francisco.”
The loss dropped the Mariners to 28-35 and left them 7½ games behind first-place Houston as they head to San Francisco for the front end of a two-and-two against the reigning World Series champions.
It was ugly from the start.
Elias opened the first inning by walking George Springer on four pitches, which not surprisingly led to problems. Springer went to third on Evan Gattis’ one-out single to left.
Houston then loaded the bases when Elias nicked Chris Carter with an 0-2 curve — and Colby Rasmus followed by lining a full-count fastball into center for a two-run single.
Hank Conger flied to left, but Jake Marisnick’s sharp grounder got through Seager for a two-base error that permitted Carter to score from second for a 3-0 lead.
The Astros extended their lead to 5-0 in the third after Gattis led off with a broken-bat single to right. He took second on Carter’s fly to deep left-center before Rasmus walked and Conger flied out.
Marisnick delivered a two-out RBI with a double to right-center that hopped the wall for a double. The Mariners caught a break there; Rasmus scores if the ball stays in play.
A walk to Luis Valbuena loaded the bases … and a walk to Marwin Gonzalez forced in another run.
The five-run fifth sealed the game.
Carlos Correa and Gattis opened the inning with singles. Carter struck out before the runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball by Jesus Sucre.
Rasmus then sliced an RBI single to left, which finished Elias — but not the Astros. Farquhar yielded a two-run double to Conger and a two-run homer to Valbuena before ending the inning.