It is the type of play the Mariners’ new, more-athletic outfield is supposed to make.
It occurred with two outs in the sixth inning Tuesday night when Houston had the bases loaded with the Mariners clinging to a one-run lead. Evan Gattis sliced a soft looper into right field.
A year ago, the Mariners don’t have a right fielder who can reached that ball. Not even close. Mitch Haniger sprinted in and reached the ball as he went into a slide. It kicked off his glove. (VIDEO LINK)
Three runs scored.
"A tough play," Haniger said. "We’re trying to cover the gap. Gattis is more of a pull guy. It was a long run. I got a good jump. I just didn’t haul it in."
The Astros added another run before the inning ended and went on to a 7-5 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
The footnote is official scorer Darin Padur credited Gattis with a double. That’s hard to argue. It wasn’t a routine play. But Haniger reached the ball; he just didn’t catch it.
"I think Mitch would say it’s a ball he comes up with most times," manager Scott Servais said. "Great effort. He went after it the way he should with the game kind of on the line there in the sixth with the bases loaded.
"He just didn’t come up with it. I’m sure he’d be the first to say he probably should have had that one."
Asked that specifically, whether he thought he should have made the catch, Haniger said: "I don’t know. I just try to do my job. I try to get to everything I can. I don’t know. Maybe next time I get it."
Taylor Motter’s third double helped the Mariners made things interesting in the ninth inning. They scored against Houston closer Ken Giles but couldn’t complete the comeback.
"When he lost control of his fastball and started throwing off-speed a little bit more," Motter said, "I thought we had something going for sure."
The Mariners fell to 2-7.
Mariners starter Ariel Miranda carried a 3-2 lead into the decisive sixth and began the inning by getting two quick outs. Then he walked consecutive hitters, his first walks of the game.
Servais went to the bullpen for James Pazos, who gave up a high-chop single to Yuli Gurriel, which loaded the bases. Gattis then batted for Josh Reddick…and three runs.
Singles by George Springer and Alex Bregman stretched the lead to 6-3.
A base-running mistake by Kyle Seager stymied an opportunity for the Mariners to counterpunch later in the inning. Nelson Cruz led off with a single and went to third when Seager sent a liner to deep right.
But Seager got trapped between first and second for an out. Houston replaced starter Joe Musgrove with Will Harris, who struck out Danny Valencia and retired Leonys Martin on a fly to left.
Springer opened the game by jumping a first-pitch fastball from Miranda for a 416-foot homer to center field. It was his third leadoff homer this season in six games against the Mariners.
The Astros added another run in the third inning on singles by Reddick, Bregman and Jose Altuve. The latter two came with two outs.
The Mariners pulled even later in the inning thanks largely to Jarrod Dyson’s speed. First, he beat out a two-out swinging bunt. Then he scored from first on Haniger’s double off the left-field wall.
Robinson Cano followed by grounding an RBI single to left.
The Mariners took a 3-2 lead in the fifth after Chooch Ruiz led off and reached first when hit by a pitch. He went to third on Motter’s double to left and scored on Dyson’s sacrifice fly.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Other than Haniger not catching Gattis’ two-out fly in the sixth inning? Dyson beat out a swinging bunt for a two-out single in the third inning.
Musgrove’s throw to first hit Dyson as he slammed into Gurriel’s glove arm at first base. (VIDEO LINK) That single turned into two runs Haniger drove a double off the left-field wall, and Cano followed with a single.
PLUS: Haniger had a good night at the plate with a double and three walks in five plate appearances. His on-base percentage is up to .395…Dyson’s speed, as noted above, led to two runs in the third inning…Miranda pitched better than his line…Motter figures to play regularly until Jean Segura returns from the disabled list. He had three doubles and made a nice play on a Springer grounder in the third inning…reliever Nick Vincent retired all four batters that he faced, including three on strikeouts.
MINUS: Haniger has to catch that ball…Seager can’t get trapped for a tootblan later in the sixth inning…Valencia dropped a foul pop by Carlos Correa near the Mariners’ dugout in the seventh. It was scored a "no-play"…Cano grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third in the fifth inning, flied to left for the final out in the seventh with two runners on base and grounded into a force play with runners at first and third in the ninth…reliever Casey Fien had another shaky outing: one run, three hits and a walk in two innings.
STAT PACK: Haniger tied a franchise rookie record in the third inning when he scored a run in his eighth straight game. Danny Tartabull did it from June 21-29, 1986…Motter is the third shortstop in franchise history to get three doubles in a game. Rey Quinones did it on Aug. 7, 1988 at Oakland, and Willie Bloomquist did it on July 6, 2005 at Kansas City.
QUOTABLE: "The goal coming into this series is to win two out of three," Servais said. "Win the series. We have an opportunity to do that (Wednesday) and keep it going in the right direction."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners remain miserable with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-8 in Tuesday’s loss, which leaves them 12-for-80 through nine games. The Astros were 7-for-13 on Tuesday.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners