SEATTLE (AP) George Springer has been simply powerful in the first inning this year.
Springer hit Ariel Miranda’s first pitch over the left-center field fence for his fourth leadoff homer in nine games to start the Houston Astros’ 7-5 win against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. It’s the first time any player has had as many leadoff homers this early in the season.
His key? Simplicity.
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”Just looking for something to hit hard. You can’t really think anything else,” Springer said. ”You’ve just got to hit the ball hard, and whatever happens, happens.”
The Mariners recovered to take a 3-2 lead going into the sixth inning, but the Astros got a pair of lucky bounces with two outs which led to four runs.
After Miranda (0-1) walked two batters with two outs, Yuli Gurriel hit a chopper off home plate against James Pazos that bounced high enough for an infield hit and loaded the bases. Pinch-hitter Evan Gattis then hit a fly ball that bounced off right fielder Mitch Haniger’s glove as he tried for a sliding catch, giving Gattis a bases-clearing double.
”I think Mitch would say that’s a ball he comes up with most times,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”Great effort. Went after the way he should with the game kind of on the line there in the sixth with the bases loaded, just didn’t come up with it. Some nights it happens.”
Pazos gave up hits to all four batters he faced, including a run-scoring single by Alex Bregman as the Astros took the lead for good.
Joe Musgrove (1-0) pitched into the sixth inning, giving up three runs and seven hits for Houston, even though he said he struggled with his command.
”I didn’t feel very good tonight,” Musgrove said. ”Although I threw some good strikes, I wasn’t throwing them where I wanted to.”
Seattle scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning off closer Ken Giles. Pinch-hitter Mike Freeman walked and later scored on a wild pitch, and a fielder’s choice groundout by Robinson Cano scored Taylor Motter. Giles got Nelson Cruz to fly out to center to end the rally.
”All’s well that ends well, but he had to use up a lot of energy and a lot of pitches in a short outing,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.
The Astros finished with a season-high 14 hits, including three by Gurriel. Jose Altuve and Bregman also each recorded their first RBI of the season for the Astros.
”We have a good offense,” Hinch said. ”We haven’t gotten on track yet, but this was a much better showing by our lineup.”
Three of Springer’s leadoff homers have come against the Mariners, and Tuesday was the second time Springer has led off with a home run against Miranda. His other leadoff homer against Seattle came against Felix Hernandez on opening day.
Mariners: Seattle placed shortstop Jean Segura on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Segura left Monday’s home opener – a 6-0 win – after the third inning. ”I fully expect he’ll be back and ready to go at the end of 10 days,” Servais said. The Mariners selected Freeman from Triple-A Tacoma to take Segura’s spot and designated for assignment left-hander Paul Fry to clear room on the 40-man roster.
Motter started at shortstop in place of Segura, and hit three doubles, equaling a Mariners record. They were also his first hits of the season after he started 0 for 7.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (1-0) makes his second start of the season. Fiers gave up two runs in six innings in his first start against Kansas City.
Mariners: RHP Yovani Gallardo (0-1) will start against the Astros. Gallardo allowed three runs in five innings in his first start against the Angels.