HOUSTON — It’s the small moments that these Seattle Mariners, in the middle of this trying and turbulent rebuilding process, will have to relish.
There was nothing small about what Evan White did in the eighth inning of the Mariners’ 2-1 loss in Houston on Saturday. White, the Mariners’ rookie first baseman, hit the second home run of his major league career, a 439-foot shot to straightaway center field, blasted off his bat at 109.7 mph.
For all the Mariners’ struggles this season, and for all the frustrations White has experienced in his first month in the big leagues, that moment had to feel good.
White entered Saturday hitting just .113 in his first 71 major league at-bats. He leads MLB in strikeouts with 35.
But the Mariners have consistently lauded White as a cornerstone piece of their future, in no small part because of his exemplary defense at first, and they believe his bat will eventually come around.
Another young player, left-hander Nick Margevicius, turned in the best outing of his Mariners’ career Saturday.
In his second start of the season, Margevicius allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. He struck out three and didn’t walk anyone.
A hard-hit grounder ricocheted off Margevicius’ right foot and rolled into foul territory near the Mariners’ visitors dugout, giving Astros slugger Alex Bregman a base hit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Margevicius, having already thrown a season-high 91 pitches, then got a visit from manager Scott Servais and a team trainer on the mound. The left-hander’s night, it appeared, might be over.
Except, after a short conversation, Margevicius convinced Servais he could finish off the inning — and he did just that. Margevicius needed just three final pitches to retire Yordan Alvarez on a ground out, stranding two runners in scoring position and keeping the M’s close at 2-0.
After the Mariners’ disastrous 11-1 loss to the Astros on Friday night, Margevicius gave his club — and the bullpen — a much-needed boost.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead against Margevicius in the second inning on Jose Altuve’s RBI ground out.
In the fourth inning, Margevicius left a 90-mph fastball over the middle of the plate for Yuli Gurriel, who crushed it over the fence in dead center. That gave the Astros a 2-0 lead.