The rivalry between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros in the American League West stepped up another level on Saturday night in south Texas. However, after Houston pitcher Framber Valdez lit the fuse, Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez stepped in to cool down the spark.
Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros get near blows as Julio Rodriguez pulls Framber Valdez away
The sparks began in the top of the fifth when Seattle’s Dylan Moore blasted a two-run homer off Valdez to push the Mariners lead to 6-2 over the host Astros. The next batter, Jose Caballero, was hit in the leg on the next pitch by Valdez, causing a skirmish between the two teams after Caballero and Valdez appeared to exchange words in front of home plate.
That’s when Rodriguez hopped into action, grabbing Valdez and pulling him away from the fracas to make sure things did not intensify more than they already had. Rodriguez walked with Valdez toward the outfield to get him away from the rest of the players.
Rodriguez appeared to talk to Valdez, who was visibly frustrated in the midst of an outing where he would give up 10 hits and six runs in 5.0 innings of work. It continues a troubling stretch for the southpaw, who has a 6.18 ERA over his last seven starts and has allowed 45 hits in 43.2 innings of work.
Seattle’s leadoff man was not only quick with his actions with Valdez, but also a spark for the Mariners at the plate, going 3-for-4 to begin the game to raise his average to .278 on the season. It’s also part of a stretch, per MLB.com, where he has 16 hits in his last four games, tying the all-time AL/NL record for most hits in such a span, reaching a total not seen since 1925.
The series in Houston is a pivotal one in the AL West, with the Mariners starting the day just 2.5 games behind the Astros in the division. Before play started today, both Seattle and Houston were in control of a Wild Card spot.
Intensity in this series reached a crescendo last season when the Astros knocked the Mariners out of the postseason, sweeping the ALDS by outscoring Seattle by a total of just four runs in the three-game set.
UPDATE ON JULIO: