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The Astros cut another game off the Mariners’ early AL West lead"WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Houston Astros NewsGame ThreadsHouston Astros Minor LeaguesAstros Game DayPodcastsEight is Great: Verlander Andrew Cashner Jersey , Chirinos, and Altuve power Houston past SeattleNew,53commentsThe Astros cut another game off the Mariners’ early AL West leadCDTShareTweetShareShareEight is Great: Verlander, Chirinos, and Altuve power Houston past SeattleThomas B. Shea-USA TODAY SportsSaturday felt more like a vintage 2018 Astros win, with a strong pitching performance buoying Houston to a 3-1 win over the Mariners to make it eight in a row. Without a doubt, the star of the evening was Justin Verlander, who turning in arguably the best pitching performance the team has seen yet in the young season. Remember early last year, when the Astros’ rotation littered the top of the strikeout leaderboard? Verlander decided to reach back to that moment, striking out eleven M’s over six innings while walking none, including eight of the first ten batters faced with a stretch of six in a row from the first through third. That makes it just the second double-digit strikeout game from an Astros starter this season, and the first since Gerrit Cole did it back in Game 2.His lone mistake was a Mitch Haniger solo shot in the fourth (the M’s first base runner of the game), which keeps their seventeen-game streak alive, but outside of that Chance Sisco Jersey , there was just a lone Dan Vogelbach single. Speaking of home run streaks, Jose Altuve kept his alive, homering for the seventh time this year. That makes it five in a row for him; one more and he ties Morgan Ensberg’s six-game streak back in 2006. His was the second of the game, after Robinson Chirinos opened the scoring with one in the third. There wasn’t a lot of other offense outside of those; a George Springer leadoff hit, Michael Brantley RBI single later in the third, and Yuli Gurriel double, and a second Altuve hit (plus a walk to Chirinos). You don’t need too much offense though when some of them go over the wall and you get a pitching performance like that to make it stand up.Meanwhile, the bullpen was able to build off of Verlander’s dominance. Will Harris allowed two hits but stranded them in the seventh, then Ryan Pressley added a hitless inning, his 27th straight scoreless appearance. Roberto Osuna’s 1-2-3 ninth notched him his sixth save in 2019.The win moves Houston to 10-5 on the season, and coming against the division-leading Mariners, moves them to just two back. Gerrit Cole will attempt to half that lead tomorrow against Marco Gonzales as the Astros go for their ninth-straight win. A Tuesday report suggested the Seattle Mariners were willing to trade many of their top players for the right return this offseason.According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Mariners have told teams that they will move "just about anyone" if the trade market is strong. In the same vein, Seattle is open to rebuilding.Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto responded to the rumor later Tuesday http://www.oriolesfanproshop.com/authentic-j.j.-hardy-jersey , per Greg Johns and Maria Guardado of MLB.com:"Clearly over-dramatized is the best way to put that. We're open-minded to different ways we can get better, but what we're hoping to achieve is to reimagine our roster to look at it in terms of what is our quickest path to a championship club."We know what the Astros, Red Sox, A's, Yankees and Indians look like. We don't want to be a perpetual competitor for the second wild card. We want to build a championship roster. If that means in 2019 we field as competitive a team as we can while earmarking and gathering talent, we're not looking to rip our club down. We're just too talented to do that."Passan noted that there are caveats involved since infielder Jean Segura has a no-trade clause, and the M's will ask for huge hauls in return for outfielder Mitch Haniger, starting pitcher James Paxton and closer Edwin Diaz.Jon Heyman of Fancred later added that it "sounds" like the Mariners will keep Haniger, Diaz and pitcher Marco Gonzales but noted, "Everyone else is up for grabs."The Mariners missed the playoffs last season with an 89-73 record, and they have not reached the postseason since 2001, which is the longest active drought in Major League Baseball.Seattle appeared on track to end the drought during the first half of the 2018 season, but a second-half surge by the Oakland Athletics ended the Mariners' season early once again.Despite missing the playoffs, the Mariners had some hugely productive players on their roster last season.Offensively Caleb Joseph Jersey , Segura hit .304 with 10 home runs, 63 RBI and 20 stolen bases, while Haniger hit .285 with 26 homers and 93 RBI.Also, impending free-agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz hit .256 and led the team with 37 home runs and 97 RBI.Pitching-wise, Paxton went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and 208 strikeouts in 160.1 innings.Diaz enjoyed one of the best seasons ever by a closer, as he posted a 1.96 ERA, struck out 124 batters over 73.1 innings and recorded an MLB-leading 57 saves.With 62 saves in 2008, Francisco Rodriguez is the only closer to finish with more saves in a single season than Diaz.One name that is likely to come up often in trade talks this offseason regardless of whether the Mariners tear down the roster is former ace Felix Hernandez.The six-time All-Star and 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner struggled through a career-worst season in 2018, as he went 8-14 with a 5.55 ERA.Hernandez may not have much left in the tank, but he has only one year remaining on his contract, which could make the 32-year-old a low-risk acquisition for pitching-needy teams.Prior to the start of the 2018 season, Baseball America ranked Seattle's farm system as the worst in Major League Baseball.Given the lack of talent coming through the pipeline and Seattle's inability to reach the playoffs, a rebuild may be the best way to make the Mariners a contender in the coming years.

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