George Springer’s walk-off dinger sends Astros over Mariners in 13th inning
With one out separating the game from its end and down to his final strike, George Springer single-handedly kept the Astros undefeated.
After the Seattle Mariners broke a five-inning stalemate in the top of the 13th inning, Springer launched a three-run home run in the bottom half to walk off a 5-3 Astros win Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. Mariners left fielder Jarrod Dyson and center fielder Leonys Martin could only watch as Springer’s ball landed in the last seat in the front row to the far right side of the Crawford Boxes.
“I’ll take it,” Springer said.
Springer’s second homer of the young season ensured the Astros their first 3-0 record since 2001, when they won the first four games on their schedule. The power-hitting leadoff man drove in all five of the Astros’ runs Wednesday, bailing out a loaded lineup that has otherwise underperformed in the early-going.
Yet, they still haven’t lost.
The Astros’ pitching staff has limited the Mariners to only four runs and 16 hits in 31 innings in the first three games of a four-game set that ends Thursday night. The bullpen has allowed just one run in 12 innings, and it was the one Seattle scored on four consecutive walks – the first three by rookie Jandel Gustave – in the top half of the 13th on Wednesday.
Reliever Chris Devenski was the Astros’ unsung hero in the game, as he was countless times last season. Flummoxing righties and lefties alike with his wicked changeup, the second-year righthander pitched four no-hit innings in his season debut. He retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, seven via strikeouts.
“I love him,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I loved him before he pitched four innings, so I certainly love him after. This is what Chris Devenski does. He’s a troubleshooter with the ability to step up and pitch in big moments.”
Despite not throwing more than two innings since March 25 and not even logging one inning since last Thursday, Devenski was so dominant he stayed in to throw 60 pitches on Wednesday. Hinch said he didn’t want to extend Devenski as far as he did “but there’s never really a reason to take Chris Devenski out of the game.”
“He shoved,” Springer said. “That’s a big-time performance out of him.”
The opportunities for the Astros’ offense to put the Mariners away seemed endless before Springer finally did it. They managed a mere three hits in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Two of those hits came from Springer, who smacked a two-run double down the third-base line in the seventh inning.
Collectively, the Astros are batting only .231 through three games. Jose Altuve, who was 0 for 6 Wednesday, is just 2 for 13 and Alex Bregman and Carlos Beltran are each 2 for 12.
On Wednesday, the offensive struggles looked like they would finally cost the Astros. They were dominated for the first six innings by Mariners lefthander James Paxton, who allowed just two hits and was forced from the game only because of his pitch count.
In his Astros and American League debut Charlie Morton kept his new team alive for the first six innings, his lone blemish a two-run homer by Jean Segura in the fifth.
Morton, who made his first regular-season start since tearing his hamstring last April 23 with the Phillies, flashed the 94 to 96 mph velocity he displayed throughout an impressive spring training. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out four.
Perhaps most encouraging for the Astros was his effectiveness against lefthanded hitters, who have destroyed him throughout his decade-long career. Of the five hits the righthander allowed, only one – a fifth-inning single by Martin – came from one of the four lefties in the Mariners’ lineup. He used a heavy dose of cutters and curveballs to neutralize them.
Tony Sipp and Michael Feliz got the Astros to the eighth, which is when Devenski took over. Once Hinch decided he couldn’t let Devenski go any further, he summoned Will Harris for a scoreless 12th. With Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson unavailable after pitching Monday and Tuesday, Hinch’s only options left were Gustave and Brad Peacock.
Gustave opened the 13th inning and couldn’t find the strike zone. He issued walks to each of the first three batters, ending his night. In came Peacock, who promptly walked Kyle Seager to put the Mariners ahead, 3-2.
Peacock kept the Astros in striking distance by recovering to induce a fly out from Danny Valencia and then striking out Mike Zunino and Dyson.
Down to their last reliever, the Mariners brought in Chase De Jong, with the team only because Dillon Overton is on paternity leave. For De Jong, a 23-year-old former second-round draft pick, this was his major league debut.
Evan Gattis worked a one-out walk and advanced to second base on a two-out, two-strike single by Nori Aoki. That left the game up to Springer, who worked a 2-2 count before unloading on a hanging curveball and sending it to left-center field.
A couple feet to the right and it’s probably caught.
“I knew I had hit it OK,” Springer said. “I’m glad it just went over the line.”
View George Springer