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MLB Playoff Roundup: Astros push Mariners to brink of elimination

Another come from behind victory leaves Houston needing one win to advance to their sixth straight ALCS appearance

Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The postponement of Game 2 between the Yankees and Guardians gave us one more day to reflect on the Bombers’ clinical 4-1 victory in Game 1 and ruminate on the matchup between Nestor Cortes and Shane Bieber. It also meant there was only one game for us to enjoy, with the Astros logging another comeback victory against the Mariners, 4-2, to win both games at home and put them one win away from yet another ALCS appearance.

Let’s see how it all played out.

ALDS Game 2

Seattle Mariners 2, Houston Astros 4

(HOU leads, 2-0)

After their heartbreaking loss in Game 1 of the ALDS when the Mariners peppered presumptive AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for six runs on ten hits, only to see Robbie Ray give up the walk-off three-run blast by Yordan Alvarez, it was easy to wonder whether Seattle had the mental fortitude to overcome such a blow and remain competitive in the series. With Luis Castillo on the mound, they answered that question with a resounding yes — at least through the first five innings.

Castillo got off to a flying start, allowing one run in the second on a Kyle Tucker solo shot, but otherwise pitching lights-out with five strikeouts through five including striking out the side in the third. He needed no more that 14 pitches to finish any of those innings, leaving him perfectly situated to go deep in a game that the Mariners desperately needed him to do so given the travails of their high-leverage relievers two nights prior.

On the offensive side, the Mariners jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Eugenio Suárez started it off with a one-out walk, followed by a Mitch Haniger double to put runners on second and third. Carlos Santana tapped a weak grounder back to Framber Valdez, but he threw the ball wide of catcher Martín Maldonado at home, allowing Suárez to score. Santana ended up getting thrown out at second in a rundown, but Haniger advanced to third on the play and came around to score on a Dylan Moore single.

Many of the same characters were involved in a sixth inning that the Mariners may live to regret almost as much as that Alvarez walk-off in Game 1. They loaded the bases with two-outs on a Haniger walk, Santana double, and Moore walk to knock Valdez from the game. In came Héctor Neris, who got Cal Raleigh to groundout to leave all three ducks stranded on the pond.

Houston seized upon Seattle’s wasted opportunity in the bottom-half, with Jeremy Peña blooping a two-out single to bring Alvarez to the plate. The story practically writes itself at this point, as Alvarez demolished a two-run bomb over the Crawford Boxes to give the Astros a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish.

The remarkable slugger has now given his team the decisive lead with a home run in both games as he continues to cement himself as the second-best hitter in baseball this year. The Astros would tack on a final insurance run in the eighth on an Alex Bregman RBI single, with their bullpen following Valdez with 3.1 scoreless innings. Houston takes a massive 2-0 lead in the series to T-Mobile Park, where the Mariners will have to sweep both games to keep their postseason hopes alive.