Mariners vs Astros score: Jeremy Peña breaks scoreless tie in 18th, Houston sweeps ALDS

The Houston Astros are returning to the ALCS. On Saturday night, 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 series-winning and decisive solo home run in the 18th inning.

At 18 innings, Game 3 is tied for the longest postseason game in history, and is the first postseason game to be scoreless for at least 15 innings. Houston advances to its sixth straight ALCS and the Mariners return home for the offseason.

Here are five takeaways from Game 3.

1. King Felix threw the ceremonial first pitch

Saturday was Seattle’s first playoff game since 2001 and there was no better Mariners legend to throw the ceremonial first pitch than Félix Hernández, the franchise’s greatest pitcher. Here is King Felix’s first pitch:

“It was good to be home” Hernandez told the Seattle Times about throwing the first pitch, adding that he said the Mariners would only commit to it after they clinched a playoff berth. I can’t jinx something like that. In related King Felix news, a rare good tweet was made during Game 3:

Hernández, who is just 36, played 13 seasons with the Mariners from 2005 to 2019, appearing in six All-Star Games and winning the 2010 AL Cy Young Award. He is the franchise leader in all major throwing statistics , including wins, ERA, innings, strikeouts, WAR, etc. You name it, King Felix leads there.

2. Kirby pitched the game of his life

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In 2017, Alex Speier from 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 right-hander George Kirby gave the Mariners this dominant pitching performance on Saturday, although the offense couldn’t pick it up.

Kirby shut down the Astros in seven innings, including a vote of confidence from skipper Scott Servais when he stayed with Kirby against Jose Altuve with two on and two outs in the seventh inning of a scoreless game, leaving his youngster 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 that went up and out of the area.

Kirby, the No. 20 pick in the 2019 draft, had a 3.02 ERA in 13 starts after being recalled from Triple-A in June, and he also closed out Seattle’s Game 2 win in the Wild Series Card. The young man started the season in Double-A. Saturday wasn’t 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, going seven innings in six shutouts. He only allowed two hits. The game remained scoreless until the 18th inning, when…

3. Peña got the big hit

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña, who hit 12 home runs in 163 career games at the University of Rhode Island and was tasked to replace Carlos Correa this season, finally broke through and smashed the series-winning home run against rookie right-hander Penn Murfee. Murfee’s cursor slid backwards on the plate:

So far, the two teams were a total of 16 for 115 (.139) with 41 strikeouts. 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 has Altuve gone worse than 0 for 6 in a game in his career, regular season or playoffs. Kirby and McCullers were excellent. So were the enclosures:

Astros bullpen

12

5

0

0

1

15

0

seven

Sailors’ enclosure

11

5

1

1

1

15

1

9

Both teams went 0-for-19 combined with runners in scoring position (0-for-11 for the Astros and 0-for-8 for the Mariners) because the relievers were so mean. Nineteen total plate appearances with runners’ position in an 18-inning game tells you everything you need to know. Scoring opportunities were rare. It was going to take a home run to win Game 3.

4. Rodríguez briefly saved Seattle’s season

Kudos to Julio Rodriguez. The Mariners prodigy temporarily saved his team’s season with a terrific two-and-out diving catch in the 16th inning when Yuli Gurriel lined a fly ball into right center space and Rodríguez put it down. Check it out:

According to Statcast, this game had a 10% capture probability given speed and exit trajectory. Rodríguez flew to Seattle’s game and season finale, but I don’t know what more he could have done for his team this season. He was amazing on both sides of the ball. The Mariners have a true superstar to build around.

5. He was tied for the longest game in history

As noted, it was the longest tied postseason game in baseball history. It was also the first postseason game to be scoreless for at least 15 innings. Here are the longest post-season games of all time:

  1. ALDS 2022 Game 3: Astros 1, Mariners in 18 innings
  2. 2018 World Series Game 3: Dodgers 3, Red Sox 2 in 18 innings
  3. 2014 NLDS, Game 2: Giants 2, Nationals 1 in 18 innings
  4. 2005 NLDS, Game 4: Astros 7, Braves 6 in 18 innings
  5. NLCS 1986 Game 6: Mets 7, Astros 6 in 16 innings

Eight days ago, the Guardians and Rays were scoreless in 14 innings and, at the time, it was the longest scoreless game in playoff history. So in 121 MLB’s first season, never had two teams fail to score in 14 innings in a postseason game. It’s happened twice this month. Go figure.

Next

The Mariners go home and the Astros go back to the ALCS. It’s their sixth consecutive appearance in the Championship Series, the second-longest such streak in baseball history behind the Braves from 1991-1988 (eight years, not including the 1994 strike season). Houston will face the winner of the Guardians vs Yankees ALDS. This series will end on Saturday at the earliest.