Elias, Saunders Leads Mariners Past Astros


The Seattle Mariners climbed back to .500 with a nice little win over the Houston Astros last night. Remember when the Astros had yet to play a game in the AL West and all anyone could talk about was how excited we were for a bunch of free wins? The M’s went only 10-9 against a 111-loss Houston club last year. Going into last night’s game they were keeping pace, having gone 4-3 in their first two series against the ‘Stros. Now they’re 5-3 against the league’s worst, which is a step in the right direction.

So, Roenis Elias. Elias continues to emerge as one of the more pleasant surprises of this young season, as he is still on a steady pace to be roughly a two-win starting pitcher in his unexpected first big league season. Through ten starts he’s still striking out about eight guys per nine frames, while walking less than half that total. He’s struggled with home runs, and indeed let up a solo shot to Jose Altuve in the first inning last night. But nobody’s asking him to be an ace, and what he is now is a consistently good mid/back-of-the-rotation starter. Right now he’s clearly the third-best guy on the M’s squad and has possibly even earned himself a shot at a full season in the MLB rotation.

Against Houston, Elias struck out six over five and a third. He allowed just three hits, including the Altuve homer, but struggled with free passes, of which he issued four. Astros starter Jarred Cosart did his best Elias impression, matching his walk and strikeout totals but taking an extra inning to do so. He allowed three runs, but kept the ball in the park. What’s important here is that Cosart’s a former top prospect and you heard of Elias for the first time in March. One’s better than the other now, and don’t try to predict baseball. It’s a bad bet.

Credit Michael Saunders with this win, since he was involved with all the Mariners runs. James Jones opened the bottom of the first with a walk and went to third on a Saunders single. Robinson Cano hit a sac fly that put the Mariners on the board. Saunders’ biggest contribution came in the seventh when he drove in the two deciding runs on an infield hit. Dustin Ackley and Stefen Romero singled, Nick Franklin (who started at shortstop) walked, and Saunders dribbled one to first base. With the bases loaded and two outs, everyone was on the move, especially Saunders. He straight up outran the throw, with two runs scoring on the play. This isn’t even a case of the Astros Astroing – this was a legitimate two-run infield single that decided the game. Awesome. There’s some legitimate speed on this M’s team, and it’s a treat to watch.

Happy Felix Day! Felix Hernandez starts tonight at 7:10pm. Rudy Owens is the starter for the Astros. Who is Rudy Owens?  Rudy Owens came to Houston in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. He’s 26 and not very good. Brad Peacock has a sore arm, and so we get the Rudy Owens Experience. Felix Hernandez! Felix Hernandez! Felix! Hernandez! Happy day.

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