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The Houston Astros are heading back to the ALCS. Saturday evening the Astros outlasted the Seattle Mariners to complete the sweep in the best-of-three ALDS (HOU 1, SEA 0 in 18 innings). The game was scoreless until Jeremy Peña provided the game-winning and series-clinching solo home run in the 18th inning.
At 18 innings, Game 3 is tied for the longest longest postseason game in history, and it is the first postseason game to be scoreless through at least 15 innings. Houston advances to their sixth straight ALCS and the Mariners are heading home for the offseason.
Here are five takeaways from Game 3.
Saturday was the first postseason game in Seattle since 2001 and there was no better Mariners legend to throw out the ceremonial first pitch than Félix Hernández, the franchise’s greatest pitcher. Here is King Félix’s first pitch:
“It felt good to be home,” Hernández told the Seattle Times about throwing out the first pitch, adding he told the Mariners wouldn’t commit to it until after they clinched a postseason berth. Can’t go jinxing something like that. In related King Félix news, a rare good tweet was made during Game 3:
inviting Felix back and then scoring no runs would be true commitment to the bit.
Hernández, who is still only 36, played 13 seasons with the Mariners from 2005-19, going to six All-Star Games and winning the 2010 AL Cy Young award. He is the franchise leader in every significant pitching statistic, including wins, ERA, innings, strikeouts, WAR, etc. You name it, King Félix leads in it.
Back in 2017, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe did the research and found nearly every team that came back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series did so thanks to a dominant pitching performance in Game 3. Rookie righty George Kirby gave the Mariners that dominant pitching performance Saturday, though the offense couldn’t pick him up.
Kirby shut the Astros out across seven innings, including a vote of confidence from skipper Scott Servais when he stuck with Kirby against Jose Altuve with two on and two outs in the seventh inning of a scoreless game, leaving his youngster in to face one of the best hitters in baseball for a fourth time in the game with his team’s season on the line. Kirby fanned Altuve on a fastball way up and out of the zone.
Kirby, the No. 20 pick in the 2019 draft, had a 3.02 ERA in 13 starts after being called back up from Triple-A in June, and he also closed out Seattle’s Game 2 win in the Wild Card Series. The young man started the season in Double-A. Saturday was not just Seattle’s most important game of 2022. It was their most important game since 2001, and Kirby delivered.
Unfortunately for Kirby and the Mariners, Lance McCullers Jr. was just as good, striking out seven in six shutout innings. He allowed only two hits. The game remained scoreless until the 18th inning, when …
Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña, who hit 12 home runs in 163 career games at the University of Rhode Island and was tasked with replacing Carlos Correa this season, finally broke through and swatted the series-winning home run against rookie righty Penn Murfee. Murfee’s slider slid right back over the plate:
Up to that point, the two teams were a combined 16 for 115 (.139) with 41 strikeouts at the plate. That includes an 0 for 8 for Jose Altuve, an 0 for 7 for Yordan Alvarez, and an 0 for 7 for Cal Raleigh. Never before had Altuve gone worse than 0 for 6 in a game in his career, regular season or postseason. Kirby and McCullers were excellent. So were the bullpens:
The two teams went a combined 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position (0 for 11 for Astros and 0 for 8 for Mariners) because the bullpens were so nasty. Nineteen total plate appearances with runners position in an 18-inning game tells you all you need to know. Scoring chances were few and far between. It was going to take a homer to win Game 3.
Shoutout to Julio Rodríguez. The Mariners wunderkind temporarily saved his team’s season with a tremendous diving catch with two on and one out in the 16th inning when Yuli Gurriel lined a ball into the right-center field gap and Rodríguez ran it down. Check it out:
According to Statcast, that play had a 10 percent catch probability given the exit velocity and trajectory. Rodríguez flew out for the final out of the game and Seattle’s season, but I’m not sure what more he could have done for his team this season. He was incredible on both sides of the ball. The Mariners have a bona fide superstar to build around.
As noted, this was the tied longest postseason game in baseball history. It was also the first postseason game to be scoreless through at least 15 innings. Here are the longest postseason games ever:
Eight days ago the Guardians and Rays were scoreless through 14 innings and, at the time, it was the longest scoreless game in postseason history. So, in the first 121 MLB season, never had two teams failed to score through 14 innings in a postseason game. Now it’s happened twice this month. Go figure.
The Mariners are going home and the Astros are going back to the ALCS. It is their sixth consecutive trip to the Championship Series, the second longest such streak in baseball history behind the 1991-88 Braves (eight years, not including the 1994 strike season). Houston will face the winner of the Guardians vs. Yankees ALDS. That series will end Saturday at the earliest.
WHAT A PERFORMANCE FROM LUIS.
TONIGHT’S @BUDWEISERUSA PLAYER OF THE GAME. pic.twitter.com/VLFO8HCahh
Scott Servais speaks to the media after ALDS Game 3. https://t.co/zZDkZbo2zS
CHAS CHAS CHAS CHAS pic.twitter.com/ngxc4noWiX
Dancing our way to the ALCS. pic.twitter.com/78ox5VY3oF
What a great season it was 💙
Join us one last time for the Mariners Playoff Postgame Show at 7:40 PM PT on ROOT SPORTS Plus!
Presented by your local @Ford dealer pic.twitter.com/dF0B1Y2yiI
We’re moving on, but the job’s not finished. pic.twitter.com/HtqGBHIB7I
Winners find ways to win. Period. pic.twitter.com/INw5GQ3vb7
A much more fun series than the 3-0 final margin would indicate. The Mariners led all of Game 1, had a lead for a bit in a very close Game 2 and Game 3 went 18 innings. Ultimately, the better team prevailed, though, and the Astros will be waiting on the Yankees-Guardians winner in their sixth straight ALCS.
Raise that flag. https://t.co/W7P6trlSH0 pic.twitter.com/4yETj3VNFd
What a team. What a season.
We’ll be back. pic.twitter.com/1guaroDjrX
SEA y’all next year. pic.twitter.com/ivfwPt0f7M
And it’s Julio Rodríguez. Why not?
The Mariners have just needed one run to win the game for about half of it. They now need one to tie or their season is over.
HE. IS. HIM. pic.twitter.com/6abbBe2ZK6
Jeremy Peña with the bomb.
JEREMY PEÑA. HELLO.
You up, @ChrisBurke02?
18 stupid innings
Santana singles with two outs and gets to second on a wild pitch. He might be able to score on a single. Taylor Trammell in to pinch run. Adam Frazier at the plate.
Only Jose Urquidy (HOU) and Robbie Ray (SEA) likely remain available in the bullpens, unless something crazy like Justin Verlander or a position player happened.
Started at 4:07 p.m. ET/1:07 p.m. PT. The Yankees-Guardians game started 3.5 hours later. That game is in the seventh inning.
Nothing to say.
.@JRODshow44 said nah 🙅♂️ pic.twitter.com/ypHelGEgl1
And Julio leads it off. Top of the order for the Mariners.
That was a legitimate season-saving catch.
Gurriel hits a line drive to the deep right-center gap, but Julio runs it down and makes a great catch. The Astros have runners at the corners now with two out.
No. Fly. Zone. pic.twitter.com/V8ezySAjdN
Mariners have two on with one out 👀
This is the first game in MLB playoff history to go to 16 innings without a run having been scored. Surely we can’t be far from dropping the “playoff” qualifier on that, either.
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