HOUSTON — It all started with a rare catcher’s interference call.
George Springer, after seemingly flying out to right field to open the first inning, took his base.
Then, the Astros did what the Astros do when given even the slightest of opportunities — score runs. So many runs. Nine of them, to be exact. In one inning.
They burned through Mariners fill-in starter Nestor Cortes Jr., who recorded only one out before he was pulled, roughed up reliever Bryan Shaw, and sent 14 batters to the plate.
Seattle’s pitchers gave up the nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits, including two home runs, and walked three in that first inning, while the defense chipped in three errors.
When the inning mercifully ended, the Mariners were trailing by eight.
When the game ended, more than three hours after it started, Seattle was starting down an 11-1 loss Friday night in their series opener in Houston. It was their fourth, and worst, loss in five trips to Minute Maid Park so far this season.
Not exactly what the Mariners (7-14) were looking for, or expecting, following their first day off Thursday.
Cortes, one of Seattle’s multi-inning bullpen arms, wasn’t supposed to make his first start in a Mariners uniform — and only his second in parts of three seasons in the majors — in Friday’s tilt.
The night started trending downward when scheduled starter Yusei Kikuchi was scratched with neck spasms, and Cortes was tapped to replace him less than an hour before game time.
J.P. Crawford extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the fifth. He has still reached base in all 20 games he’s played in.