SEATTLE -- What really bothers veteran relief pitcher Pat Neshek is that he feels good on the mound. That's what makes the eighth inning Tuesday so hard for him to take. That's what makes the month of September so hard to swallow.
Neshek's troublesome month continued in a 6-4 loss to the Mariners, giving up a game-deciding, two-run single off the bat off Shawn O'Malley with two outs that dealt the Astros' playoff hopes a blow. For the first time since April 18, the Astros are on the outside, looking in at the postseason race.
"I got him 2-0, and I was trying to get back into the count," Neshek said. "I got to 2-2 and could've went a lot of ways there. I went with the slider and, you know, he got his bat on it and slapped it that way and got it in there. It's tough."
Neshek is 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA and two blown saves in September. In 6 1/3 innings, he's given up eight runs (six earned) and 13 hits.
"I've never really had anything like this before," he said. "Pitching's all about confidence and riding the wave. Hopefully, you always tell yourself, 'Hey, this next time, I'm going to go up there and throw up a scoreless inning and see where it takes me.' And I'm hoping for it one of these days.
"I feel really good out there. It's a weird thing. It just seems like balls are landing here and there and I'm hanging a pitch every once in a while and just not getting the call. But I remain positive. I come in, as a reliever you kind of wipe that stuff away and just go out there and have a fresh outlook every day. That's what I tell myself now."
"It was close," Neshek said. "I watched the replay. But, I mean, a lot of this game is out of your hands. And it just didn't go our way there."
O'Malley singled to center field to score a pair, and the Astros were done, falling a half-game back of the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot and 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the AL West lead.
"The one-armed swing off of Perez with Smith, he executed his pitches and had a really difficult at-bat," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He was fortunate there. Neshek's [hitters] just sort of found holes. It's very frustrating to come out of that game with a loss. It's obviously magnified given the time of year. We're going play all our games and see where we're at at the end."