Published May 03, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Mariners were supposed to be the breakout team in the American League West this season. After one month, though, it's been the Houston Astros that has everyone talking.
Houston goes after its eighth straight win on Friday when they continue a four-game set with the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
The roll continued in Thursday's opener, as Jose Altuve ripped an RBI single to the wall in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Houston to a 3-2 win.
"There's an energy about this team when the game's on the line ... it's just locked in," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "We had the right guy up at the end. Just a big win at home tonight, with a walk-off like that, I'm not sure you could script it much better."
Houston starter Scott Feldman surrendered two runs in the first inning but settled down after that, tossing seven innings to keep baseball's hottest team in the game. Four relievers took over from there, with Luke Gregerson (2-0) pitching around a leadoff single in the top of the 10th to earn the win.
Dominic Leone (0-2) was on the mound for Seattle in the home 10th. He served up a Marwin Gonzalez double and walked Colby Rasmus, setting up Altuve's game winner.
"We had opportunities to certainly put some runs on the board and we didn't do it," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.
The Astros, who have won 11 of their last 12, are now 15-7 and completed April with their best winning percentage (.682) since going 14-6 in 1986. Another win on Friday would give them eight in a row for the first time since Aug. 27- Sept. 3, 2008.
"This game was very important for us because of the way we're playing," Altuve said. "Keep the momentum going."
James Paxton started for the Mariners and matched Feldman's output, allowing a pair of runs with seven strikeouts over seven innings.
Getting the call for the Mariners on Friday will be left-hander Roenis Elias, who makes his second appearance in the place of the injured Hisashi Iwakuma.
Elias did not get a decision on Sunday against Minnesota, but pitched well, allowing just a pair of runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struggled with his command a bit, though, and walked three batters.
"Started to get in a rhythm as the game went along," Elias said through an interpreter. "Obviously, it's the first start of the year and just wanted to help the team get a win. I got comfortable as the game went along."
Elias made29 starts for the Mariners last season and pitched to a 1.59 ERA in two outings against the Astros.
Houston, meanwhile, will turn to long reliever Samuel Deduno, who has posted a 2.89 ERA over 9 1/3 innings in five relief outings with one save this season.
"I thank God for this new opportunity," Deduno said. "It's a good opportunity for me and it's an opportunity that could also help the team to help us keep winning, as we're doing now."
Deduno, whose made 42 starts over the course of his six-year career, hasn't thrown more than 2 1/3 innings and 38 pitches since he tossed 54 pitches in four innings on April 9.
"I think that's the one difficulty going back in these roles, he's probably not stretched out to the 80-90-100 pitches that you normally see out of a starting pitcher," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It depends how efficient he can be with his pitches early. It will be one of the shorter starts just given the volume he hasn't been able to build up to."
Houston has won three of four against the Mariners earlier this month.