Mariners see win streak end at 14 games, one victory short of team record

The stage was set Friday for one of the most fun nights in recent Mariners history.

A sellout crowd of 45,290 was on hand at T-Mobile Park — the first since opening day — on a glorious summer evening to see if the Mariners could tie a team record with a 15th consecutive win against AL West rival Houston while also celebrating the unveiling of the 2023 All-Star Game logo and honoring their own All-Stars from earlier this week, Julio Rodriguez and Ty France.

“The feel in the ballpark was awesome,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

The Mariners even brought back Bret Boone and Mike Cameron — members of the All-Star team the last time the game was held in Seattle in 2001 — to throw out the ceremonial first pitches to France and Rodriguez.

But it was mostly downhill from the moment Cameron and Boone exited stage right as Houston hit three home runs in beating the Mariners 5-2 to snap their winning streak at 14, one shy of the record held by the 2001 Boone-Cameron-led squad. It was the Mariners’ first loss since July 1.

Things turned even before the game began when it was announced shortly before the real first pitch Rodriguez was being scratched because of what the team called left wrist soreness.

That obviously sounded ominous given what Rodriguez means to the team — and meant during the streak.

But Servais indicated after the game the injury is not overly serious saying Rodriguez is “day to day” with the hope he may be able to play Saturday or Sunday.

Servais said Rodriguez jammed the wrist on a steal attempt in the first inning at Texas on Sunday and that he also “felt it after the (Home Run) Derby” at the All-Star Game.

Servais said Rodriguez felt soreness in the wrist again during batting practice but thought he could play through it. But when he again felt sore after another BP round in the cage around 6:30 p.m. the call was made to scratch him.

Servais said “any time you are a late scratch you’ve got some concerns” but made it sound as if the call to scratch him was mostly precautionary.

“Got to do the right thing here,” he said. “Got a lot of big baseball games ahead. It just really wasn’t worth the risk running him out there tonight not being 100%.”

Almost before the news about Rodriguez had sunk in, Houston lead off hitter Jose Altuve hit the third pitch of the game from Marco Gonzalez 422 feet over the center-field wall for a home run and a lead the Astros would never relinquish despite a valiant Mariners effort in the eighth inning to make it a game that was vanquished by a marvelous defensive play by Houston shortstop Jeremy Pena.

Trailing 5-1, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out off reliever Phil Maton. That brought on Ryne Stanek, who entered the game with the best current scoreless innings streak in MLB at 26 1/3 innings.

Eugenio Suarez drew walk on a bases-loaded count after falling behind 0-2 and brought in one run. Kyle Lewis, in his first game since May 28 when he suffered a concussion when hit by a pitch by Houston’s Jose Urquidy — who started Friday night — followed with a hard shot up the middle that initially appeared as if it might bring in two more before Pena leapt to snare it.

“I thought K-Lew had a really good at-bat,’’ Servais said. “… They made a play and we needed one to fall in that didn’t fall in.’’

Cal Raleigh followed with a strike out against Stanek and the threat ended there with the Mariners falling to 51-43.

The Mariners’ only other run came on a solo homer by France in the sixth off Urquidy, who otherwise allowed the Mariners little.

The performance marked a turnabout for Urquidy, who entered the game 8-1 against the rest of the major leagues but 0-3 against the Mariners, giving up 27 hits and 15 earned runs in 13 innings.

This time, Urquidy allowed just four hits and one run in six innings.

Along with Altuve’s homer, Yordan Alvarez in the fourth and Martin Maldonado in the fifth also went deep against Gonzalez, the second time this year he had allowed three home runs — the other coming in his first start of the season at Minnesota on April 10 when he lasted just two innings.

The Astros also got a sacrifice fly from Alvarez in the fifth and an RBI single from Jake Meyers in the sixth to pad the lead.

The first two Houston homers came on counts of 2-0 and 2-1 which Gonzalez felt was the problem.

“They are a team that you need to get ahead early in the count and kind of stay ahead the entire game and unfortunately I just couldn’t execute early in the count,” Gonzalez said. 

The 14-game winning streak and stretches of going 17-1 in their last 18 and 22-3 in their last 25 led to brisk ticket sales for this three-game series against the AL West leading Astros. That Friday was also one of the team’s seven fireworks shows this season also probably didn’t hurt.

All three marks were the best since the famous 2001 season, in which the Mariners won 116 games, with a chance to improve on each with Boone and Cameron on hand.

Instead, the Mariners will have to win the next two games against the Astros this weekend to avoid also seeing their streak of eight straight series wins snapped, also the longest since 2001.

All of that might lead some to wonder if the Mariners lost some of their, well, mojo during the All-Star break

But as Servais noted before the game, no baseball team is going to win them all.

While the Mariners have been one of the hottest teams in baseball the last month, so has Houston — the Astros are 26-9 since June 12, the best in MLB.

Servais, before the game, also resisted the idea that the All-Star break might halt the team’s momentum, noting that the players — and especially a bullpen that had gotten a lot of work during the winning streak — would benefit from the rest.

“I don’t think any of us wanted to quit playing at that point because we’re going so good,’’ Servais said. “But you know we ran our bullpen really hard in the last series in Texas. Guys needed a blow. Our position players needed a blow. … I think it came at the right time.’’

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