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Yusei Kikuchi scratched from his start, and Mariners pay a big price as Astros roll 11-1

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 14, 2020

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Nestor Cortes, a late replacement for Yusei Kikuchi (neck spasms), allowed five hits and seven earned runs in one-third of an inning.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Nestor Cortes, a late replacement for Yusei Kikuchi (neck spasms), allowed five hits and seven earned runs in one-third of an inning. (Associated Press)
By Jordan Godwin Associated Press

HOUSTON – Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat of the season after recovering from COVID-19, connecting during a nine-run outburst in the first inning that sent the Houston Astros over the Seattle Mariners 11-1 on Friday night.

Alvarez was the AL Rookie of the Year last season when he hit .313 with 27 homers. He missed the first 18 games of this season following a positive test for the virus before summer camp.

Alvarez drove in four runs in his 2020 debut, including his opposite-field shot off Nestor Cortes in the first. Alvarez came up again in the inning with the bases loaded, but grounded into a double play.

Cortes (0-1) was named the starter less than an hour before first pitch after originally slated starter Yusei Kikuchi was scratched with neck spasms. Cortes, who is primarily a middle reliever, was making just the second start of his career.

Cortes allowed seven runs on five hits and retired only one batter before he was pulled.

Houston starter Framber Valdez (1-2) settled in after a lengthy first inning when he walked two, hit a batter and had a balk where he appeared to slip.

Valdez allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five in six innings to earn his first win of the season. He improved his ERA to 1.90 in 23⅓ innings across four games.

The Astros have won 22 of their past 24 games against the Mariners.

Yuli Gurriel followed Alvarez’s homer with a line-drive shot into the left-field Crawford Boxes. He had an opposite-field triple in the second inning. Houston’s Alex Bregman reached base for the 19th straight game with an RBI single in the first.

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