The Seattle Mariners waited 21 years to host a postseason game, so they sure made up for lost time.
But the instant classic did not fare in their favor as the Houston Astros advanced to their sixth straight American League Championship Series with their 1-0, 18-inning win, sweeping the Mariners in the best-of-five series.
There were just seven baserunners from the 10th to the 17th innings, but in the 18th, Jeremy Pena had had enough. He finally turned the scoreboard on with a leadoff homer, and that was all that was necessary.
Yuli Gurriel led off the ninth inning with a single off Diego Castillo, his third hit of the day. He then plunked his next batter in Aledmys Diaz, and a sac bunt put them both into scoring position. Scott Servais then brought in Matt Brash, and it worked perfectly. Brash struck out Christian Vazquez and the dangerous Jose Altuve to get out of the jam.
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The Astros brought in closer Ryan Pressly in the bottom of the ninth, but he put runners on first and second with one out. However, he struck out Carlos Santana and got Adam Frazier to fly out to send the game to extras, still scoreless.
There was little action in the next eight – yes, eight, innings. In fact, there were just four baserunners from the 10th to the 15th.
The Mariners did put the winning run on base in the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 17th innings but to no avail. In the 16th, the Astros had first and second on with one out, and a fly ball moved Alex Bregman to third, but Diaz popped out to third.
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In the biggest start of his career, George Kirby silenced the Astros bats, but Lance McCullers matched him every step of the way. The Mariners used eight pitchers in relief, emptying out their bullpen – they combined for 11 innings. Houston’s though, was just a bit better. They used seven for a dozen, while Luis Garcia, normally a starter, tossed five scoreless innings to earn the win and shut the door.
Both teams combined for just 25 baserunners while striking out 42 times.
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The top three hitters of the Astros lineup (Altuve, Pena, Yordan Alvarez) combined to go 1-for-22, but the one was all they needed.
But after 18 long, grueling innings, Houston will have three days to rest as they await the winner of the Yankees and Guardians American League Division Series. Cleveland is up two games to one after a ninth-inning comeback.