From 14 consecutive wins to back-to-back losses, the day-to-day variance of baseball makes the latter so unique and the former typical. Obviously, the Mariners were going to lose a game at some point in the second “half” of the 2022 season and the winning streak would end.
That they’ve lost their first two games to the Astros out of the All-Star break in front of a sold-crowd on Friday night and 43,197 on Saturday at T-Mobile Park is a disappointing start to be certain.
Playing without Julio Rodriguez for the second straight game due to left wrist soreness, the Mariners, a team with something more than postseason aspirations, faced a playoff-level pitching performance from Astros starter Justin Verlander and couldn’t respond in a 3-1 loss.
Verlander pitched seven innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts to improve to 13-3 on the season.
Over his past five starts, Verlander is 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA having allowed just three earned runs in 34 innings pitched with 36 strikeouts and six walks.
Not bad for a 39-year-old veteran coming off of Tommy John surgery.
The last time he pitched in T-Mobile Park back on May 27, he allowed six runs on 10 hits, including homers from Rodriguez, Kyle Lewis, Ty France and Taylor Trammell.
There would be no repeat of that showing.
He held the Mariners scoreless for the first six innings allowing just two baseerunners — a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford to start his outing and an infield single to Adam Frazier in the second inning.
He was on a stretch of 17 consecutive batters retired when he ran into his only trouble in the outing.
With one out in the seventh inning and the Astros leading 2-0, Verlander hung a curveball to Carlos Santana that was turned into a solo homer. The Mariners threatened to take the lead as Eugenio Suarez worked a walk and Frazier singled and stole second base. With runners on second and third and one out, Verlander struck out Cal Raleigh on an elevated fastball, pitched around the pinch-hitting Lewis for a walk and struck out Sam Haggerty swinging to end the inning.
Seattle got a quality start from Logan Gilbert, who pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.