For the second time in three days, the Miami Marlins' bullpen let a no-hitter fall a few outs short of completion.
Wei-Yin Chen and two relievers came within two outs of Miami's first combined no-hitter and the Marlins one-hit the Seattle Mariners in a 5-0 victory Tuesday night.
Chen had perhaps the best start of his career, working seven innings before being lifted with his pitch count at 100. Brad Ziegler got through the eighth inning with the no-hitter intact despite a pair of tricky grounders that nearly became hits.
The Marlins were on the verge of the sixth no-hitter in franchise history when Mitch Haniger lined a one-out double into right-center field off Kyle Barraclough in the ninth.
“I don't know if I'm pitching with a one-run lead if he's getting a 2-1 fastball there,'' Barraclough said. “But tip my cap. I didn't think it was that bad of a pitch and he did a good job. He stayed on it and went the other way with it.''
Barraclough recovered to strike out Robinson Cano and get Nelson Cruz to line out to right.
It was the second time in three days the Marlins' pitching staff took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Dan Straily and two relievers combined to no-hit the New York Mets through seven innings Sunday before Neil Walker broke it up in the eighth with a single off Ziegler with two outs.
The Marlins also let a no-hit bid off the hook with an out in the ninth last April, when Adam Conley and Jose Urena combined to hold Milwaukee hitless until Jonathan Lucroy's single.
Chen (2-0) did the heavy lifting Tuesday, silencing the Mariners by staying around the edge of the strike zone. He was pulled by manager Don Mattingly after reaching the century mark in pitches, and there was little argument about the decision.
“If given the choice any pitcher would like to go out there and keep pitching, but Don talked to me and gave me his reasoning and wanted to keep me healthy for the whole season, so under that situation I try not to think about it too much. It's his decision to make,'' Chen said through a translator.
Chen entered with a 7.00 ERA and 14 hits allowed over his first two starts of the season, both coming against the New York Mets. But he lived on the corners Tuesday, and Seattle was willing to chase, making weak contact as 19 of the first 21 outs were recorded by the defense. The best contact Seattle made came in the fifth inning when Kyle Seager hit a one-hopper back up the middle that shortstop JT Riddle gloved and threw to first. Taylor Motter, the next batter, flew out to the warning track in center.
Chen got 12 fly ball outs and just seven on the ground. He allowed three total baserunners, two coming in the seventh inning, on a walk to Haniger and when Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch with one out. But Chen finished off the inning, striking out Seager and getting a pop up from Motter.
“It's a big deal we aren't on the news tonight. We would be all over the place,'' Cano said.
Miami got the offense it needed early with an RBI infield single by Christian Yelich in the first inning and a two-run homer by Justin Bour in the third inning.
Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo (0-2) allowed four runs and nine hits. While the Marlins had a number of broken-bat singles or slow rollers that found holes in the infield, Gallardo did leave a slider hanging that Bour hit for an opposite-field home run. The damage would have been worse if not for Guillermo Heredia robbing Marcell Ozuna of a three-run homer in the first inning with a leaping catch at the wall.