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Shannon Drayer: Mariners’ young core held its own during Houston’s sweep

The Mariners gave the Astros a fight during their three-game set in Houston. (AP)

The Seattle Mariners came into Houston to face the AL West-leading Astros on a roll, having won six of their last seven, including two of three on the road against a talented Milwaukee Brewers team. And while the Astros swept the M’s in the three-game weekend set, it’s not like the M’s were derailed in Houston.

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Seattle lost the first two games to the Astros on back-to-back walk-off hits by Yuli Gurriel in the 10th inning, then fell 6-1 Sunday in a game where it trailed by just two runs going into the bottom of the eighth inning. There are several reasons why that was actually a promising development for the Mariners.

“The (season) run differential going into Sunday’s game in the nine games that they had played was just 5 (in favor of Houston),” said Mariners insider Shannon Drayer to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom. “Each team had a big blowout win over the other (before the weekend series) and every other game just about had been close. Houston had the two walk-off wins (this series) but the Mariners hung with them the first two games against good pitching, and then I think on Sunday that was kind of the one where it looked like they probably weren’t as much in that game there. The bullpen was a little bit tired.”

Before the bullpen stumbled in the eighth inning Sunday, the Mariners had given Houston a lot to think about, including Saturday when they pushed across four runs in five innings against All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander.

“I think it’s encouraging. We talked with Daniel Vogelbach after the Verlander game and I loved the way that he was talking about how, you know, we didn’t win the game but we gave the Astros everything that they could handle, and we’re young, we’re getting going, I like the direction where we are right now, I like where we are going to be,” Drayer recalled. “He really looked at it more big picture which I thought was interesting coming from a young player.”

Also worth noting is that the Mariners did all that without two veteran hitters that were still on the roster in the seven previous meetings with the Astros: Edwin Encarnación and Jay Bruce, who have since been traded to contending teams.

“This is the first series where they faced (Houston) where they haven’t had Encarnación, where they haven’t had Bruce. This is truly the younger core right now, and I think they did hold their own.”

Vogey for HR Derby?

Drayer had much more to talk about when it came to the Mariners, especially when the topic turned to Vogelbach, who was named to his first AL All-Star team on Sunday.

While Vogelbach will get a chance to play in the midsummer classic in Cleveland, there is still hope that he will also get to compete in the Home Run Derby. There are two open spots left in the eight-player field, but Drayer said Vogelbach is a long-shot at this point. Not that he should be, though.

“Home run derbies are made for Daniel Vogelbach, and Daniel Vogelbach is made for home run derbies. It’s a no-brainer, get it done,” Drayer said.

Should Vogelbach be shut out from the derby this year, she doesn’t think this will be his only shot, however.

“If it doesn’t happen now, it will happen down the line.”

To hear the full segment with Drayer, listen in the player embedded in this post or download the podcast here.

Vog-All-Star: Mariners’ Daniel Vogelbach going to the All-Star Game