Mitch Haniger’s inability to catch a two-out fly ball to right field Tuesday fueled Houston’s four-run sixth inning, which proved decisive in sending the Mariners to a 7-5 loss at Safeco Field. (VIDEO LINK)
Three takeaways from Tuesday’s victory:
***Haniger’s play: The Mariners had a 3-2 lead when Evan Gattis lofted a soft fly to short right field with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The outfield was playing Gattis to pull, which meant Haniger had a long run.
Haniger covered the necessary ground and tried for a sliding catch. The ball ticked off his glove (VIDEO LINK) for a three-run double. Houston scored another run before the inning ended and held the lead for the remainder of the game.
Several things to note: It was not a routine play. Gattis was rightly credited with a double when Haniger failed to make the catch. Haniger covered a lot of ground. A year ago, the Mariners didn’t have a right fielder capable of making that play.
Asked afterward whether he should have made the catch, Haniger said, "I don’t know." Here’s the rule of thumb in the big leagues: If you reach the ball, you should catch the ball.
It was a disappointing moment in what has generally been a strong start for Haniger in his rookie season. He leads the club in runs and has three of the Mariners’ five homers while compiling a .395 on-base percentage.
For all that, he should have made the catch.
***Motter steps up: Taylor Motter had three doubles in his first start as Jean Segura’s replacement at shortstop. The Mariners put Segura on the 10-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game because of a strained right hamstring.
How rare is it for a Mariners shortstop to get three doubles in one game?
Alex Rodriguez isn’t that popular these days in the Northwest, but he was an All-Star four times from 1994-2000. During that span, he won a batting title, led the league in runs, hits and doubles and hit more than 40 homers on three occasions.
He never had three doubles in a game.
Before Motter, it had only been done twice before by a shortstop in franchise history: Rey Quinones on Aug. 7, 1988 at Oakland; and Willie Bloomquist on July 6, 2005 at Kansas City.
***Not so clutch: It is an indication that the Mariners might be pressing that they continue to squander scoring opportunities. They were 1-for-8 Tuesday with runners in scoring position, which means they are now 12-for-80 over nine games.
The Mariners aren’t lacking in opportunities. They are lacking in key hits. And it’s killing them.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners