The Seattle Mariners were seven outs away from ending up on the wrong side of baseball history, and then suddenly they weren’t.
Omar Narvaez cleanly singled to right center in the seventh inning to break up San Diego’s convincing no-hitter bid, and ensure the Mariners, at least on this Tuesday night, wouldn’t become the first team in history to be no-hit three times in a single season.
Kyle Seager followed Narvaez by doubling to the corner in left, further dampening Dinelson Lamet’s quest for the Padres’ first-ever no-hitter. But, three days after the Mariners were no-hit by the Astros, and less than a month after the Angels handed them the same fate, avoiding another catastrophe was all the Mariners could ultimately manage.
Despite rallying for four runs in the eighth, after Lamet’s night was over, they still settled for a narrative that has become too familiar this season, dropping an 9-4 loss to the Padres at T-Mobile Park.
“Tonight was a struggle for the first six innings to get anything going offensively,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. We came to a little bit of life there at the end, but a lot of punch outs. ... We’ve got to get some consistent offense going, and it’s been a struggle. We didn’t do much in Houston, and really didn’t do anything at all tonight to get it going.”
Lamet was winless with a 5.09 ERA entering the game, but despite allowing four walks across the first three innings, had little issue controlling the Mariners’ spiraling offense, which has just 13 hits in its past four games, through the first seven frames. From the third until Narvaez’s single with one out in the seventh, Lamet retired 13 consecutive batters, including striking out nine in that span. He wrapped up his scoreless outing by fanning Dylan Moore to match a career-high with 12 strikeouts.
That, paired with the eight runs the Padres offense spread across two separate innings, was enough to stymie Seattle’s late comeback bid.
Until the eighth, it seemed the Mariners were on their way to being shut out for the seventh time this season, but Mallex Smith ignited a desperate push by beating out an infield single with one out in the eighth. J.P. Crawford singled behind him, and advanced to second, setting Seattle up with a pair of runners in scoring position.
Domingo Santana promptly singled Smith in for Seattle’s first run of the game, and Crawford crossed on a wild throw by Padres catcher Austin Hedges, trying to catch Santana stealing.
It was rookie Tim Lopes, though, who delivered a deafening roar from the crowd of 24,020 during an otherwise disappointing defeat. After entering the game as a defensive replacement in the top half of the inning, Lopes, who returned from the seven-day concussion list earlier in the day, hammered the first home run (and hit) of his young major-league career to straightaway center to make it 8-4. The two-run shot earned Lopes a standing ovation and a curtain call.
“Just something I definitely will never forget,” Lopes said. “Just something I’ll cherish in my heart forever, for sure.”
San Diego’s first five runs came in a surprisingly problematic fifth inning for Wade LeBlanc. Seattle’s veteran lefty, who followed opener Matt Wisler’s scoreless first inning, retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, allowing just one hit in three frames, before the Padres unloaded.
Hunter Renfroe drew a walk to open the decisive frame, Josh Naylor singled, and Manuel Margot doubled off the base of the wall in left, out of reach of Moore, to score Renfroe for the game’s first run. Luis Urias’ RBI single scored Naylor, and Austin Hedges’ squeeze bunt plated Margot from third. Fernando Tatis Jr., a National League Rookie of the Year hopeful, then belted a two-run homer to the upper deck in left to make it 5-0.
“I thought he was throwing the ball fine early on,” Servais said. “The first couple innings I thought he was really sharp. A walk kind of started that whole inning, and they put some good swings on him. The double. And certainly the ball that Tatis hit to widen the gap there was a big blow in the inning.
“You’re still kind of in the game. You feel you’ve got a chance to come back from 3-0, but he made it 5-0 to widen the gap on a changeup that just cut right back over the plate. I don’t think that’s where Wade intended for it to go, but we didn’t execute, and they took advantage of it.”
“It was a changeup, and it cut, and I don’t know why I threw a changeup that cut,” LeBlanc said of the Tatis homer. “It seems like there’s been a lot of pitches this year that did what they’ve never done before, so take that for what you want.”
LeBlanc has had consistent success in 10 games following an opener this season, if two shaky outliers are removed. Through 55 1/3 innings, he’s posted a 4-1 record with a 3.42 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 14 walks. Take away Tuesday’s one rough inning, and his rare six-run meltdown against the A’s in June, and LeBlanc’s record behind an opener is a perfect 4-0 with a stunning 1.89.
When LeBlanc makes a true start, he is 2-4 with an 8.35 ERA and 30 strikeouts to nine walks. Tuesday night’s outing — at least for that one inning — seemed more like one of those starts. LeBlanc was pulled after just 70 pitches, allowing the five earned runs on five hits in five complete innings, striking out five and dishing out that one leadoff walk to Renfroe that opened the floodgates.
“I felt like I threw the ball better than I have recently, for the most part,” LeBlanc said. “I feel like I made one mistake tonight, other than that, you look up and there’s five runs on the board. It’s just one of those innings.”
Rookie Erik Swanson, after pitching as scoreless seventh, served up three more runs to the Padres in the eighth on a two-run homer by Erik Hosmer and a solo shot by Naylor. That made it 8-0, and Seattle’s four-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning wasn’t nearly enough.
Swanson was removed with two outs, and rookie Zac Grotz, a recent call-up from Double-A Arkansas, recorded the needed out, and struck out two in the ninth before more trouble came. Tatis drew a two-out walk, advanced two bases on a wild pitch, and walked home on a single to center from Wil Myers.