SEATTLE — Unlike the beatdowns they endured at Minute Maid Park, the Seattle Mariners weren’t blown out, drubbed, shellacked or whatever word fits your description of decisive defeat.
The 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park provided yet another unnecessary reminder about the Mariners this season — they can’t beat the best team in their division and they certainly can’t do it when Gerrit Cole is on the mound.
For the Mariners, it was their 12th consecutive loss to the Astros. The two teams play the final game of their 19-game season series on Wednesday; Seattle will try to salvage just its second win vs. Houston this season. Yes, Seattle is 1-17 vs. the Astros in 2019.
Yusei Kikuchi will get the start for Seattle against Houston’s Zack Greinke.
As for Cole, well, he simply added to his resume for the American League Cy Young Award with his closest competition being teammate Justin Verlander.
Cole pitched seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts to improve to 19-5.
Four of those wins have come in four starts against the Mariners, who he has absolutely dominated.
In 28 innings pitched vs. the Mariners this season, he’s allowed four earned runs on 12 hits with a walk and a whopping 50 strikeouts. He posted double-digit strikeouts in all four starts.
With his seventh-inning strikeout of Kyle Lewis, Cole pushed his season total to 314. It eclipsed the 40-year-old club record of 313 set by J.R. Richard in 1979. Cole has 316 strikeouts on the season, the most for an American League pitcher since Nolan Ryan had 341 for the Angels in 1977. And the most in a season for any pitcher since Randy Johnson had 334 and Curt Schilling totaled 316 for the Diamondbacks in 2002.
As for the Cy Young, Cole is 12-0 in his 12 starts after the All-Star break. He’s pitched of 84 2/3 innings, allowing 14 earned runs for a 1.49 ERA with 133 strikeouts and just 14 walks.
Cole still has one more start, in Anaheim. After that, his next start will likely be Game 2 of the American League Division series at Minute Maid Park.
The Mariners erased the possibility of a no-hitter in the third inning when Dee Gordon doubled to center off of Cole with one out. Gordon never left second base. He watched as Cole carved up Mallex Smith and Shed Long for strikeouts to end the threat.
The Astros’ offense was unusually quiet early. Seattle got a nice shortened start from Justin Dunn. After struggling with nerves, command and walks in his first two outings since being called up, Dunn worked two scoreless innings against the top seven of the Astros order. He allowed just an infield single to Jose Altuve and displayed an outstanding slider and lively fastball.
Houston finally got its first run against lefty Tommy Milone, who replaced Dunn to start the third inning. With Mike Trout out for the season, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman has become the new hot candidate for the American League MVP. Bregman led off the fourth inning by pulling a high fly ball over the wall in the left-field corner for his 40th homer of the season and 109th RBI.
The Astros tacked on two more runs in the seventh. Milone allowed back-to-back doubles to Kyle Tucker and Aledmys Diaz for a run to start the inning. Diaz later scored on Josh Reddick’s ground ball to first base. Running on contact, Diaz dove safely into the plate as Austin Nola’s throw pulled Omar Narvaez away from the plate.
The Mariners tried to mount a rally when Cole finally exited the game and right-hander Ryan Pressly entered. Daniel Vogelbach worked a one-out walk and Gordon smacked a single to put the tying run at the plate. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. But Pressly came back to strike out Smith and Long to end the threat.