Keuchel loses control; Astros fall to Mariners 9-8
HOUSTON (AP) — Dallas Keuchel was in control, taking a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning and a 2-1 lead in the seventh.
Then his control vanished.
Justin Smoak homered to cap an eight-run burst in the seventh inning, leading Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariners over the Houston Astros 9-8 Saturday night
Keuchel (2-2) left after walking the first three batters of the seventh. Jose Cisneros walked Mike Zunino, forcing in the tying run, and Michael Saunders followed with a two-run double.
“Out of the gate, I didn’t really feel too well, but I had some early contact. Some groundball outs kind of got me in a groove,” Keuchel said. “It feels like a train hit me in the seventh. It’s not like me to walk three guys in a row. I felt like a couple of those pitches were close, but the umpire has the final say.”
The left-hander had not allowed more than three runs in any of his previous four starts.
“I just felt kind of sluggish,” Keuchel said. “There are a few games every once in a while where you feel sluggish out of the gate, and I was thankful to make it through the first couple unscathed.”
Keuchel allowed four runs and four hits with three strikeouts. Through six innings, he hadn’t issued a walk.
“Lost command and wasn’t able to minimize the damage and they were able to get big hit after big hit,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “Dallas Keuchel is a pitch-to-contact, control-and-command guy. If someone was to ever ask me do you think Dallas Keuchel would walk three people in a row, the answer would be no 100 out of a 100 times.”
Stefen Romero and Robinson Cano added RBI singles, Kyle Seager doubled in run and Smoak’s two-run homer off Raul Valdes made it 9-2. The inning was Seattle’s highest-scoring since getting eight in the second at Texas on May 30, 2012.
McClendon was ejected in the seventh after the walk that loaded the bases. Catcher Jason Castro went to the mound to talk to Keuchel, and when he began walking back to the plate, McClendon was tossed by plate umpire James Hoye for arguing.
Iwakuma (1-0) made his first appearance after starting the season on the disabled list because of a sprained right middle finger. He allowed four runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings; the Astros stopped his consecutive scoreless innings streak at 25 dating to last year.
Fernando Rodney escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and finished for his seventh save.
Jonathan Villar and Chris Carter each homered in Houston’s four-run seventh as the Astros dropped to 10-20. Carter also tripled and Marwin Gonzalez had three hits.
Carter hit an RBI triple to the center-field hill in the eighth and scored on Alex Presley’s single, making it 9-8. After Yoervis Medina walked the bases loaded, Rodney induced Jose Altuve to fly out.
“Great response,” Porter said. “Those guys, it’s a credit to them. They keep plugging away. We talk about it all the time. Regardless of what happens, every at-bat counts. Grind your at-bats out, and today was a prime example of that, and we put ourselves in position to make a huge comeback.”
NOTES: After hitting the game-winning single Friday night, Astros rookie OF George Springer was given the day off. Springer, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 16, had started the last 14 games. “It’s more of just a breather,” Porter said. ... Seattle OF Abraham Almonte, in a 4-for-37 slump in his last 10 games, was out of the lineup. “That’s why he’s sitting, because it’s not working,” McClendon said. “It’s that simple. He’s not playing because he’s not producing.”