Houston, TX – While the season home opener was minus an audience, the Astros took advantage of a five-run fifth inning to claim an 8-2 victory over the Mariners on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer and Justin Verlander picked up his first win of 2020, as the Dusty Baker era in Houston has begun. It was Baker’s 3,500th regular-season victory as a manager. The Astros got six solid innings from Verlander (1-0) to help them to their 14th straight victory over Seattle, setting a franchise record for most consecutive wins against any opponent.
JV struck out seven and walked one as he became the ninth pitcher in MLB history to make 12 opening day starts. He allowed just three hits, but the first two were solo homers to give the Mariners an early lead.
Rookie Kyle Lewis was credited with the first Seattle homerun, when he sent a shot over the left field fence to open the second inning and make it 1-0. Houston answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the third frame. Martín Maldonado slapped an RBI base shot past the infield and into left field to knot the game at a run apiece. Josh Reddick scored on the play. The Mariners managed to regain the lead on a Kyle Seager solo homerun in the top of the fourth.
Entering the fifth inning, the Astros retired the side and then went to work. Houston tied it 2-2 when Aledmys Diaz scored on an RBI single by Jose Altuve. That would send starter Marco Gonzales to the showers. Zac Grotz took over for Seattle and was greeted with an Alex Bregman RBI single that would plate Maldonado.
With one out, Brantley stepped into the batter’s box with Altuve and Bregman aboard. The left-handed slugger broke the game open by rocketing an off-speed pitch into the right field seats to clear the bases. The Astros extended their lead to 6-2.
Video: MLB and AT&T SportsNet – Brantley Homerun
Houston added a pair of insurance runs late in the game, while the defensive gloves kept Seattle in check. Maldonado belted out a line drive to right field to score Abraham Toro in the bottom of the sixth frame. In the seventh inning, Carlos Correa picked up an RBI two-bagger, allowing Yuli Gurriel to cross the plate for the eighth and final run to secure the 8-2 win.
The Astros and Mariners will continue the three-game stand with a pair of matinee games Saturday (at 3:10 p.m.) and Sunday (at 1:10 p.m.) at Minute Maid Park.
|ON THE SCOREBOARD|
|WP: J Verlander|