HOUSTON – Yuli Gurriel’s right ankle was bothering him after Houston’s first baseman turned it running to first base in the seventh inning on Saturday night.
But manager AJ Hinch didn’t want to take him out with the game tied after he’d hit the winning home run for a 2-1 win in the 10th inning over the Seattle Mariners a night earlier.
Hinch’s instinct to leave Gurriel in the game paid off when he doubled in the 10th inning for his second straight last-at-bat winner, lifting the Astros to a 6-5 win over the Mariners.
“When the game’s on the line, he has that (hitter) vibe to him that he’s going to get a good pitch to hit and he’s going to hit it hard,” Hinch said. “Now what’s going to happen, who knows … but he’s very experienced and very good at what he does. He was operating on basically on one leg; his ankle is bugging him a little bit from earlier in the game. It was an incredible at-bat.”
The Astros hadn’t scored since putting up five runs in the second when Michael Brantley singled to start Houston’s 10th, ending a streak of nine hitless innings over eight appearances for Seattle closer Roenis Elias (2-1). It was the first hit he’d allowed since June 6.
Gurriel then hit a ball just out of reach of diving center fielder Mallex Smith to score Brantley and give Houston the victory. Gurriel is the first Astro to have consecutive last at-bat winning hits since Geoff Blum did it on June 10-11, 2009, against the Cubs.
“I’m not scared to fail, and I always have a positive mindset in these situations,” Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator.
He said that his teammates have been joking with him a lot over the last two games about his clutch hitting, and that Jose Altuve told him that he called both of his winning hits this week.
“So let’s see what he announces tomorrow,” Gurriel said.
Seattle manager Scott Servais was disappointed that his team couldn’t close it out.
“Roenis tried to get a change-up, just left it up,” he said. “Gurriel is a professional hitter, really good in those spots.”
Houston’s bullpen helped the Astros to the win in a game in which Justin Verlander had an uncharacteristically short outing. Collin McHugh struck out the side in the eighth and Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth. Chris Devenski (2-0) allowed one hit in a scoreless 10th.
Verlander gave up five hits and tied a season high with four runs in five innings for his shortest start since going four innings in a loss to the Rangers on April 2. He struck out five and walked a season-high four in the fourth straight start in which he’s given up at least one homer.
Tim Beckham, Domingo Santana and Daniel Vogelbach all homered for the Mariners, who lost their third straight. Kyle Seager walked with two outs in the second before Beckham’s towering shot hit on the wall near the train tracks atop left field to put Seattle up 2-0.
Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi issued consecutive walks to Brantley and Gurriel to open Houston’s second. Josh Reddick reached on a fielding error by Dee Gordon with one out that allowed Brantley to score and cut the lead to 1. Jake Marisnick then slapped a double down the left-field line to score two more and give Houston a 3-2 lead.
Kikuchi allowed six hits and five runs – three earned – in five innings.
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