SEATTLE — The Mariners didn’t win Thursday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, but they defied logic.
First-place Houston had future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander as its starting pitcher, while the last-place Mariners had reliever Austin Adams making his first big-league start, with his job to go one or two innings as the “opener.”
Verlander was very good and Adams was knocked around before getting through the first inning. Yet somehow the Mariners made the Astros play 14 innings before finally losing 8-7 on Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly, concluding Seattle’s longest homestand of the season.
The Mariners twice came back when down to their final out, once against top closer Roberto Osuna in the bottom of the ninth, then again in the bottom of the 10th. They almost pulled off one final comeback in the 14th, but Shed Long popped out to left field on a 3-1 pitch with the bases loaded to finally end the 5 hour, 6 minute game.
The Mariners finished the 11-day, 11-game homestand with just three wins, but they certainly put up a great fight before leaving town to start a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels.
“Our guys really competed their tails off today,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “I am proud of our effort, continuing to come back in that game. … We kept fighting and (had) a lot of great signs offensively.”
Trailing from almost the outset, the Mariners finally caught the Astros with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Edwin Encarnacion lashed a single to right, tying the score at 6.
Then, down 7-6 with two outs in the 10th, Omar Narvaez hit a homer to right to extend the game again.
This did not seem like a game headed to extra innings in the first.
Adams allowed the first two batters to reach base, then got a double play and it looked like he might escape without any damage. But that changed quickly. Gurriel drove in a run with a single and Robinson Chirinos followed with a homer to left to make it 3-0.
After a walk, Adams was done.
“It didn’t work out the way we hoped it would,” Servais said of using an opener. “We still think strategically it’s a good play for us. We’ve just got to put up a zero and get out of the inning.”
Tommy Milone, who was scheduled to pitch the bulk of the innings for the Mariners, came in a bit earlier than expected and did a solid job. He allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings — a homer to Alex Bregman in the fifth inning — to keep it close.
Verlander, who was victimized by poor defense (miscommunication on a fly ball that was ruled a double) in allowing a run in the first inning, was knocked out in the seventh. He was relieved with runners on first and second with one out and the score 5-1. The Mariners took quick advantage of his exit.
Will Harris came in and threw nine pitches, getting one out but also allowing three singles and three runs to score as the Mariners cut the deficit to 5-4.
The Astros added a run in the eighth to make it 6-4, but Domingo Santana’s one-out single in the bottom of the inning drove in a run, and with runners at first and second and one out, Houston elected to bring in Osuna.
He did his job, getting Narvaez to fly out to center and Long to pop out to third. But in the ninth, the Mariners made Osuna pay for a leadoff walk, with Encarnacion sending the game to extra innings.
Osuna’s blown save meant a no-decision for Verlander, who allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings on five hits. He walked none and struck out seven.
After Narvaez kept the game going with his dramatic homer in the 10th, the Mariners had a great chance to win in the 11th as Josh James walked the bases loaded with one out. But Daniel Vogelbach struck out and Kyle Seager flew out to left field.
“Vogey had a big at-bat there, but it happens,” Servais said of his first baseman’s inability to get the runner home from third with one out.
With that missed chance, what could have been a win to remember turned into a loss.
Houston’s Myles Straw opened the 14th inning with a triple against Matt Festa, the eighth pitcher used by the Mariners.
Gurriel’s sacrifice fly drove home Straw and this time the Mariners couldn’t come back.
“We had a couple of chances to get that winning run across, but we just didn’t quite get it done, but not for a lack of effort,” Servais said.