The Houston Astros kicked off their 2022 playoff hunt in electrifying fashion, walking off in the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday, and Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez had some words about the questionable high-leverage decision.
With the Astros trailing, 7-5, Mariners skipper Scott Servais elected to pull reliever Paul Sewald from the contest with two runners on and two men out — instead calling on southpaw starter Robbie Ray to end the ballgame. However, Seattle’s breakthrough momentum from the wild-card round against the Blue Jays, took a daunting turn when Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez crushed an 0-1 offering into the right field second deck — giving the Astros a 1-0 series lead.
The loss begged a looming question regarding Servais’ decision to defer to Ray, who challenged Alvarez with a pitch right down the middle of the plate.
National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez struggled to rationalize the crucial game-deciding trigger in the best-of-five series.
“He should’ve been away from the number 44 that we said we don’t want beating us,” Martinez said, as seen on TBS’ MLB postgame coverage. “If there was someone that we were gonna circle, was probably (Alex) Bregman. … But Yordan Alvarez is the guy that you circle, also, as not being the one that’s gonna beat me.”
Martinez added: “I’m gonna give you three factors that probably flip the series from now on. … (Justin) Verlander is not gonna pitch as bad as he did, who knows when. (Jose) Altuve, you’re not gonna hold him for an 0-for-4 every night. And all of a sudden, you have a Seattle team that was probably playing the best ball against a real good team and had the opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the series. Now, the Houston Astros comeback on that.”
Alvarez, who hit 29 home runs in 135 games played for the Astros this season, entered the game 1-for-3 in career at-bats against Ray with two walks and a single. Nevertheless, Martinez was far from on board with Ray’s pitch location against an experienced power-hitting bat.
“If I was Robbie Ray, I would check my ego out the door,” Martinez said. “I saw the first hack, you got away with it. Well, I’m sorry, you’re not gonna see that anymore. It doesn’t matter who you are in baseball, some guys you just have to respect.”
The Mariners, now down a game after collecting 13 hits against Astros pitching, will look to even the series at one apiece in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.