Peacock struggles as Astros drop another

Peacock struggles as Astros drop another
August 31, 2013, 12:00 am
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Peacock struggled with offspeed pitches

Houston starter Brad Peacock said he didn’t throw one changeup for a strike on Friday. If Seattle starter Taijuan Walker was having trouble with his changeup he didn’t mention it. And it may not have mattered the way he had control of his fastball.

A highly-touted prospect, Walker made his major league debut one to remember, pitching the Mariners to a 7-1 win over the Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park, giving the Mariners two wins in the first two games of the four-game series.

Oh, Walker did have some help offensively. Dustin Ackley’s four hits matched the Astros’ team total. Ackley, who also had the defensive play of the game in center field, extended his hitting streak to seven games and had four RBIs.

But Walker (1-0) was superb, allowing no earned runs and only two hits in his five innings.

“My fastball command was alright today,” said the 21-year-old Walker, rated as the No. 5 prospect by mlb.com entering 2013. “And they, not ever seeing me before and me not ever seeing them, I think that gave me a little advantage.

“The first hitter I was a little nervous. I got more comfortable as the game went on.”

Houston’s fourth straight loss overshadowed a strong relief performance from Philip Humber, who allowed only one run and two hits in 3 1/3 innings. Humber, who struck out his first three batters, retired his first seven batters.

Walker was in trouble only one inning, the third. The inning the Astros scored and took a 1-0 lead for Peacock (3-5), who failed to get out of fifth inning and left the game after Ackley’s two-out  two-run  single gave the Mariners a 5-1 lead. Jonathan Villar’s two-out double in the third was Houston’s first base runner. Villar scored when first baseman Justin Smoak, who walked three times, couldn’t hold onto a throw from shortstop Brad Miller.

L.J. Hoes had two of Houston’s four hits. Matt Dominguez, who was playing DH, had the other Houston hit leading off the seventh.

Robbie Grossman, who had hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, went 0-for-4, although he was robbed by Ackley’s catch for the third out of the fifth inning.
Grossman hit a ball to deep center field, just right of Tal’s Hill. After a long run Ackley went down to his knees to avoid running into the wall and made the catch on the slide.

Grossman was 0-for-3 against Walker. Walker and three Seattle relievers combined for only four strikeouts.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen him,” said Grossman. “It’s just one of those games. We hit the ball, just couldn’t find holes. It just happens.”

Walker became the 11th Mariner to earn a win in his major league debut and the youngest to do so.

“He has good stuff,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “It’s power fastballs, it’s put-away breaking balls, and he kept it at the top of the zone and we didn’t do too much with it.”