MAK­ING MAGIC

Hous­ton’s magic num­ber at 1 af­ter 8-6 win

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Kristie Rieken

HOUS­TON—On a day when the Hous­ton Astros cut their magic num­ber to one for clinch­ing the AL West ti­tle, they were al­ready look­ing ahead to ac­com­plish­ing an­other goal.

"Win­ning the divi­sion (will be) great but at the end of the day all you want is home-field ad­van­tage," said Car­los Bel­tran, who had three hits and two RBIs in Hous­ton's 8-6 vic­tory over the Seat­tle Mariners on Satur­day.

Dal­las Keuchel pitched six ef­fec­tive in­nings to help the Astros (90-58) reach 90 wins for the first time since 2004. They can se­cure the fran­chise's sev­enth divi­sion ti­tle with one more win or a loss for the Los An­ge­les An­gels, who were sched­uled to play Texas on Satur­day night.

"Get­ting 90 wins for me per­son­ally is a high­light just be­cause of how many lean years there have been," said Keuchel, who was with the team for the last two of three straight 100-loss sea­sons from 2011-13.

Hous­ton had the best record in the AL for most of the sea­son be­fore Cleve­land's 22-game win­ning streak put the In­di­ans atop the stand­ings at 91-57 head­ing into Satur­day's game against Kansas City.

Astros man­ager A.J. Hinch is proud of how his team has been play­ing down the stretch.

"They're get­ting af­ter it," he said. "They see what's at stake. They're play­ing hard. They're play­ing well, which is a good sign."

A day af­ter scor­ing three runs in the first, the Astros jumped on the Mariners again, scor­ing four times against Erasmo Ramirez (5-6) in the se­cond in­ning.

"He's had that hap­pen a cou­ple of times where he's fallen off the rails a lit­tle bit," man­ager Scott Ser­vais said. "Just com­mand and stuff wasn't sharp in the se­cond in­ning."

Keuchel (13-4) al­lowed one run—Jean Se­gura's 11th homer in the sixth—and four hits, bounc­ing back nicely from a rocky per­for­mance in his pre­vi­ous start. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award win­ner is­sued a sea­son-high four walks in 5 2/3 in­nings in a 10-2 loss at Oak­land last Sun­day.

Joe Mus­grove al­lowed a solo homer to Mitch Haniger with two outs in the ninth be­fore strik­ing out Robin­son Cano for his first save.

Ge­orge Springer and Josh Red­dick had two hits and two RBIs apiece for the Astros, who have won three in a row.

The Mariners scored four runs in the eighth. Cano hit a two-run sin­gle and Nel­son Cruz and Kyle Sea­ger had RBI sin­gles be­fore Mus­grove came in and re­tired three in a row.

The Astros jumped in front on Derek Fisher's RBI dou­ble with two outs in the se­cond. Springer fol­lowed with a tworun sin­gle and Red­dick dou­bled home a run to make it 4-0 Hous­ton.

Al­tuve and Car­los Cor­rea hit con­sec­u­tive sin­gles with no outs in the fifth be­fore a third sin­gle—this one by Bel­tran—scored Al­tuve and chased Ramirez. Hous­ton tacked on an­other run when Cor­rea scam­pered home on Alex Breg­man's dou­ble play.

Ramirez al­lowed eight hits and walked three in four-plus in­nings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: Ser­vais said there was noth­ing phys­i­cally wrong with James Pax­ton a day af­ter he got just four outs in his first start since re­turn­ing from the dis­abled list on Fri­day night. Ser­vais said he was just "out of whack" on the mound af­ter sit­ting out since Aug. 10 with a strained pec­toral mus­cle.

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers threw a bullpen ses­sion and the Astros will see how he feels on Sun­day be­fore de­cid­ing if he'll start on Tues­day against the White Sox. He was scratched from his sched­uled start on Wed­nes­day af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing arm fa­tigue dur­ing pregame throw­ing.

WHAT A RE­LIEF

Seat­tle's Ariel Miranda made his first re­lief ap­pear­ance in the sixth af­ter 29 starts this sea­son. He struck out one in a score­less in­ning in his first re­lief ap­pear­ance since Aug. 9, 2016.

"We'll use him. Keep him fresh, keep him go­ing," Ser­vais said. "If we do need to start him we can or we can bring him out of the bullpen."

UP NEXT

Mariners: Andrew Moore (1-3, 5.36 ERA) is sched­uled to start on Sun­day. Moore al­lowed one hit and one run in six in­nings of re­lief in his last out­ing.

Astros: Justin Ver­lan­der (12-8, 3.58 ERA) will make his first home start on Sun­day since be­ing traded from the Tigers on Aug. 31. Ver­lan­der, who has started twice for the Astros on the road, was great in his last start, al­low­ing just one hit in eight in­nings of a 1-0 win over the An­gels.

Associated Press

n Seat­tle Mariners' Robin­son Cano, right, hits a two-run sin­gle as Hous­ton Astros catcher Brian McCann reaches for the pitch dur­ing the eighth in­ning of a base­ball game Satur­day in Hous­ton.

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