Mariners Lose First Second Half Series

Jul 17, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) takes off his batting gloves after striking out to end the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field. Houston defeated Seattle, 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 17, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) takes off his batting gloves after striking out to end the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field. Houston defeated Seattle, 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Right after we predict the Mariners will make the playoffs, they lose their home series opening the second half against the Houston Astros.

For those excited for a second half breakthrough from your 2016 Seattle Mariners, this series probably took the air out of your sails.

The Astros proved to be a thorn in the side of Seattle once again by taking two of three games in the weekend series at Safeco Field.

Ex-Mariner Doug Fister got the ball for the first game of the series against the Canadian lefty, James Paxton.

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Neither man pitched particularly well as Fister threw five innings of three-run ball after a wild pitch plated the most unlikely of baserunners in Dae Ho Lee, and a two-run double by the super-utility man Shawn O’Malley who entered the game at shortstop after Ketel Marte twisted his ankle sliding into third base.

Paxton fared even worse as he gave up a leadoff homer to George “Man-Child” Springer as well as a five-run 5th inning where Jake Marisnick and Carlos Correa had RBI doubles and Paxton made things much worse by throwing two wild pitches that each plated a run.

Houston’s bullpen came in and pitched four scoreless innings. Seattle’s relievers pitched four innings and gave up a run after Marwin Gonzalez homered off Tom Wilhelmsen in the 7th inning. Houston won the first game 7-3.

Game 1 Notes:

Ketel Marte left the game with a twisted ankle as mentioned before, and Nelson Cruz took a foul ball off of his left foot but stayed in the game. Both were out of the lineup for the second game of the series.

George Springer leading off the game and second half with a home run seems just too fitting.

Three runs scored this game via wild pitches. When’s the last time that happened?

Hisashi Iwakuma graced all Mariners fans with a truly wonderful outing to nab a game from the pesky Astros by throwing seven dominant innings and allowed just two hits while striking out eight Astro hitters. Edwin Diaz dazzled once again and showed why “Future Closer” may as well be tattooed across his forehead as he threw a scoreless 8th inning and struck out two. Steve Cishek surrendered a leadoff double to Marwin Gonzalez to start the 9th and then Jose Altuve bunted back to Cishek who got Gonzalez in a pickle between second and third base before he was tagged out. Altuve ended up on 2nd as a result and pesky as ever, stole third base a few pitches later. Cishek bared down and retired Carlos Correa and Luis Valbuena to end the game and give Iwakuma a well deserved 1-0 win.

Jul 15, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte (4) leaves the game after being injured during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Mariners offense got only one run when Robinson Cano plated Leonys Martin (who had a nice 2-for-3 day in the 2-hole) but thanks to great pitching, that was all that they needed.

Game 2 Notes:

I like the idea of Martin batting second in the order as he strikes out a bit too much for a leadoff hitter and he’s also good at bunting.

A lineup without Cruz or Marte looks even weaker when Daniel Robertson ends up as your leadoff hitter.

I’m so happy Diaz has taken over as the setup man. Benoit hasn’t been the guy we thought he would be and for every pitch Benoit would have thrown, Diaz probably threw five or six.

In one of the more infuriating games I can think of in a long time, the Mariners went back to their Little League days in the series finale.

Seattle’s defense played terribly as Kyle Seager had 2 errors, and Seth Smith and Leonys Martin added an error each. The Mariners offense had the bases loaded twice in the first three innings and came away with nothing. Seager struck out in the first and third innings with the bases juiced, and Dae Ho Lee grounded out to end the frame in the first, and grounded into a double play to end the third inning as well. Seager drove in the lone Seattle run in the 8th, but they were already in an 8-run hole before that.

Jose Altuve  had 4 hits, including a 2-run home run, and Carlos Gomez hit a grand-slam off of Nathan Karns in the 7th to lead the way for Houston’s 8-1 spanking of Seattle.

Game 3 Notes:

Mike Montgomery didn’t help himself in his goal to get back in the starting rotation after lasting just five innings and giving up four runs (three earned).

Jul 17, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Mike Montgomery (37) throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

How bad was the defense? That Kyle Seager Gold Glove seems a lot further away than two seasons ago.

Leaving 10 runners on AND 4 errors must have aged Scott Servais a few years. That was painful to watch for everyone.

Cruz and Marte returned to the lineup for the final game of the series.

Other Notes:

Not only do the Mariners welcome the Chicago White Sox to Safeco, but they also welcome back King Felix Hernandez who makes his first start back from injury on Wednesday.

Do you think of buying or selling at this point? The farm system isn’t particularly great so acquiring top talent would be a little difficult, but you may be able to get some pretty good returns for guys like Seth Smith or Steve Cishek in terms of prospects.

I remember being so excited that Houston was joining the AL West a few years ago, but now I wish they’d return to the National League. Can we take San Diego please?

Chris Iannetta had two consecutive days off to “clear his head” and focus on the changes he’s making to his swing with Edgar Martinez. If that was the case, could we at least have Mike Zunino back up? Watching Jesus Sucre hit makes me nauseous.

The Mariners struck out 33 times this series. With Chris Sale and Jose Quintana pitching this upcoming series, that number might climb even more, which is a scary thought.

Next: Bring Back the Old All-Star Game

The Mariners will face Sale and the ChiSox starting tonight at 7 p.m. at Safeco Field.