Seattle mariners vs. houston astros game recap 9-2 4-19-18 the news tribune

Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, a Gonzaga University graduate, allowed no earned runs in 4 2/3 innings with a season-high eight strikeouts in his first career start against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Safeco Field. TJ Cotterill

“We got a little unlucky,” Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said. “Same with Leake (Wednesday). He threw the ball really well, a lot better than the stat line would say. Our pitchers really pitched with them this series, but we didn’t hold up our end on the offensive side.”

But Houston’s lineup is explosive enough to do that to teams. They can get hot in a hurry. Jose Altuve, the reigning American League MVP, had been uncharacteristically quiet (at least by his standards) the first three game of the series and then he went 3-for-4 on Thursday with a pair of doubles and four RBIs, including a bases-clearing shot over Mitch Haniger’s head in right field with the bases loaded.

The Mariners do have reinforcements on the way. Catcher Mike Zunino is expected to be activated off the disabled list for Friday’s 5:05 p.m. game at Texas with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez appears lined up to start Sunday’s game and first baseman Ryon Healy will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas on Friday, to go with the Mariners having activated outfielder Ben Gamel on Wednesday.

“I think we need to take the experience, what we learned, how they attacked us and how they pitched us and hopefully we’ll be better off for it the next time we see them. We’re going to play them a lot so it’s not the last time we’ll see the Astros nor the last time they will see us.”

But at what point do the injuries also affect his swing? Cruz had a soft base hit to left field on Wednesday, but in six games since he was activated off the disabled list, Cruz is 3-for-24 (though he did hit a home run in second game back against Oakland).

“I’m concerned,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before Thursday’s game. “No doubt. I check with him every day. Maybe there’s a day where we have to give him a day down here, a day down there. I really will be day to day. I’m hoping it gets better.

His eight Ks were the most he’s had since Gonzales was traded to the Mariners from the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of last season. The Gonzaga University graduate was one strikeout away from tying the career high he set of nine when he was pitching for the Cardinals against the Rockies in 2014.

Gonzales has previously struggled in his young career to get through a lineup a second time and after striking out Jake Marisnick for the second out of the inning with runners at the corners, Servais had to be considering that the Astros were then sending the top of their order up with George Springer next up.

“It’s unbelievable,” Segura said. “He goes from throwing 91 four years ago and now he’s throwing 98. I don’t get it. I thought when you get older your velocity goes down. And they got Verlander and Morton who went backward – they’re older and throwing harder. Whatever they are doing, they are tough.”