Houston, TX — After getting roughed up in a loss to the Angels a couple of weeks ago, Houston starter Jake Odorizzi had to figure out some things quickly.
He didn’t have to go far for answers with Justin Verlander’s locker just a few steps away and the two-time Cy Young Award winner more than willing to help out a teammate.
“He had some pitching information and mindset information and it’s really kind of opened my eyes to a lot of different things,” Odorizzi said.
Odorizzi with help from his teammates snapped a two-game skid, moving manager Dusty Baker within one victory of becoming the 12th manager in MLB history to reach 2,000.
Jeremy Pena’s blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Marco Gonzales, which ended Seattle’s (12-11) comeback hopes and sealed a 3-0 win for the Astros (12-11) on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, right off the 2021 pennant.
“With Martin Maldonado on deck, I’m definitely trying to get in and off the plate,” Gonzales said. “It was a cutter that just kind of didn’t cut. Hat tip to him, he hit a pitch and I made a mistake. I wish I could have that one back.”
Gonzales pitched himself out of jams in the first and fifth innings, allowing just one run on a solo homer from Yordan Alvarez in the fourth inning. But one mistake in the sixth was the nail in the coffin.
Gonzales finished the sixth inning to end his night. He allowed the three runs on eight hits with two walks and two K’s. It was a good start in a ballpark where he hasn’t had much success. In six previous starts at Minute Maid Park, Gonzales had an 0-4 record with a bloated 5.40 ERA, allowing 16 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings with the Astros posting a .300/.381/.482 against him with 15 walks, 14 K’s and 13 extra-base hits allowed.
Seattle’s best scoring opportunity came in the seventh inning. Odorizzi issued a two-out walk to Eugenio Suarez. Astros manager Dusty Baker went to hard-throwing Ryne Stanek to end the inning. Stanek walked J.P. Crawford to bring the tying run to the plate in Julio Rodriguez.
The battle lasted just three pitches. Stanek fired a 101-mph fastball for a called strike. Rodriguez fouled off another fastball at 101. The third pitch was a nasty splitfinger fastball at 90 mph that Rodriguez swung over, dropping down to his knee.
“That’s big league pitching,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “There’s a reason that it’s hard to hit in this league. He’s learning. It’s good experience for him. Thought he had good swings, but it was nasty. It’s why they are the best in the world. It’s tough to hit him.”
Odorizzi tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits with a walk and three K’s. The veteran allowed 16 hits and 12 runs combined in his first three starts but has allowed just five hits and one run in his last two.
Seattle faced Odorizzi on April 15 at T-Mobile Park, knocking him out of the game in the fifth inning after scoring four runs on eight hits with four walks.
But the Mariners didn’t muster much against him with just four singles.
“Location has been great,” Baker said of Odorizzi outing. “He used his fastball a lot more and then his split was better. It shows you what kind of shape he’s in, he maintained his velocity the whole time he was out there.”
Reliever Rafael Montero gave up a single to Ty France with one out in the ninth before walking Jesse Winkler, but Eugenio Suarez grounded into a double play to end it and give Montero his second save of the season.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve went 0 for 3 with a walk in his return after being out since April 19 with a hamstring strain.
J.P. Crawford had a single in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, which is the longest active streak in the majors. The Mariners lost for the fifth time in six games.
Astros: Closer Ryan Pressly, who has been out since April 14 with inflammation in his right knee, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Sugar Land on Tuesday. Baker said they’re not sure if he’ll just play one game or if he’ll need multiple outings before being activated.
Houston’s Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.35 ERA) opposes Chris Flexen (1-3, 3.38) when the series continues Tuesday night.