SEATTLE -- Like it has so many times so far this season, it started slowly. There was a walk, an infield hit and another walk, and all of a sudden ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel and the Astros found themselves with the game on the line. And like so many times this season, things spun out of control quickly.
The Mariners erupted for four runs in the fifth inning against Keuchel to take a five-run lead and went on to rout the reeling Astros, 11-1, on Wednesday night at Safeco Field, sending Houston to a 6-15 record that is the worst in the American League.
"They just couldn't get the inning to stop," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "A couple of singles, a couple of doubles, and the next thing you know, they put up some big swings. We had the one play that got away from us with the two-out base hit. All in all, it ended up being an ugly game; it wasn't an ugly start for Dallas. I was happy with what he did, and then obviously the inning got away from him."
Keuchel spoke of the frustrations of the big picture, saying the Astros weren't playing as a team.
"We're still playing sloppy and it's not going to change until something or some people, you know, play well," he said. "This is the highest level you can go and I think people take it for granted sometimes. It's not the way it should be. We have people busting their tails and doing everything they possibly can, and it seems like we're not a cohesive unit. Until we are, it won't look pretty. That's just the way it is."
Keuchel (2-3, 4.41 ERA) allowed six hits, five runs, two walks and struck out five batters in six innings after sending down nine of the first 10 batters he faced. He had allowed one run through four before the fifth inning got away from him.
A one-out walk to Chris Iannetta, an infield hit by Dae-Ho Lee and another walk to Seth Smith loaded the bases. A good play by first baseman Tyler White to throw out a runner at the plate saved a run and put the Astros within an out of escaping, but Ketel Marte hit a single to make it 2-0.
Robinson Cano followed with a two-run single to left that fell just in front of Colby Rasmus to score a pair, and Marte was able to score when the Astros couldn't get an out after getting Cano in a rundown between first and second. White's throw to the plate to get Marte was high, and the Mariners led, 5-0.
"Everybody wants to save the run," Hinch said. "That's the anxiety that happens as the play unfolds. In a perfect world, you have the runner running back to first with the ball in [Jose] Altuve's hand, and then he can spin and throw home. They had one of their better baserunners on third. At the end of the day, we need to get an out on the play. We had a free out, we just didn't take it."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.