Let’s just say it could have been worse Tuesday, a lot worse, when the Mariners’ four-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-0 loss to the Miami Marlins at Safeco Field.
Mitch Haniger’s one-out double in the ninth inning saved the Mariners from the indignity of a no-hit loss. It came against reliever Kyle Barraclough after Wei-Yin Chen and Brad Ziegler held the Mariners hitless.
Chen exited the game after 100 pitches when Marlins manager Don Mattingly opted for his bullpen.
Ziegler got three quick ground-ball outs before Barraclough started the ninth inning by striking out pinch-hitter Mike Freeman. Haniger then drove a clean double into the right-center gap.
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That was it, though. Barraclough struck out Robinson Cano before ending the game by retiring Nelson Cruz on a fly to right.
The Mariners manage no near-misses before Haniger’s double. There were no great defensive plays by the Marlins. Just two walks, one hit batter and 25 pretty routine outs.
So the Mariners avoided the fourth no-hit loss in their 41-year history. The last one was a perfect game by Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox nearly four year ago — a 4-0 loss on April 21, 2012, also at Safeco Field.
Miami built a early four-run lead for Chen by scoring single runs in the first two innings against Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (0-2) before Justin Bour hit a two-run homer in the third inning.
The Mariners didn’t get their first baserunner against Chen (1-0) until Cano worked through 10 pitches for a two-out walk in the fourth inning.
Chen started the seventh inning with another walk — to Haniger, who worked back from a 0-2 hole. After Cano’s grounder to second erased Haniger on a force, Chen nicked Cruz with a pitch.
Kyle Seager struck out by chasing an outside fastball on a 1-2 count, and Chen then nursed his no-hitter — and shutout — into the eighth inning by retiring Taylor Motter on a pop to third.
Gallardo gave up single runs in the first and second innings, although he limited the damage each time, before surrendering Bour’s two-run homer in the third.
It got better after that. Gallardo closed his evening with three scoreless innings, but the Mariners had no answers for Chen.
Gallardo’s problems started immediately when Dee Gordon whacked the game’s first pitch into the right-center gap for a double.
J.T. Realmuto followed with a ground single through the right side that moved Gordon to third, and Gordon scored on Christian Yelich’s high chop infield single.
Gallardo retired the next two hitters before Marcell Ozuna sent a drive to deep left — that turned into the third out when Guillermo Heredia made a leaping catch above the wall.
The Marlins put Gallardo in another jam by starting the second inning with well-placed singles by Derek Dietrich and A.J. Ellis. The runners moved to second and third on J.T. Riddle’s sacrifice.
The runners held when Gordon tried for a bunt, but Gallardo buried a first-pitch fastball to Realmuto, which got past catcher Carlos Ruiz for a run-scoring wild pitch and a 2-0 lead.
It got worse in the third. Yelich led off with a single and, with one out, Justin Bour sliced a 92-mph fastball over the left-field wall for a two-run homer that pushed the lead to 4-0.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Heredia saved three runs by pulling back a homer with a leaping two-out catch at the left-field wall on Ozuna’s drive in the first inning.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners