Francisco Liriano flirts with no-hitter, then Tigers bullpen blows it
Seattle – Once Francisco Liriano was finished, the Seattle Mariners finally got started.
Mitch Haniger kept Seattle alive with a tying two-run homer in the ninth inning and Jean Segura’s RBI single in the 11th gave the Mariners a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. The Mariners improved to 3-0 in extra-inning games this season.
“The heart that this club has is pretty, pretty impressive, it really is,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “These guys, they just keep battling through adversity.”
Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh but closer Shane Greene blew his third save of the season, giving up Haniger’s 11th home run on an 0-2 pitch with one out. Haniger has hit two tying home runs in the seventh inning or later this season.
“I couldn’t have made a worse pitch at a worse time, and I paid for it,” Greene said.
Second baseman Dee Gordon led off the 11th with a single against Buck Farmer (0-3), stole his A.L.-leading 16th base to advance to second, then scored on Segura’s single down the right-field line, his second career game-ending hit.
“When (Gordon) gets on base, he sets the tone,” Segura said. “You put so much pressure on the pitcher because Dee is running. He left a fastball right down the middle and I was able to put some good contact on it.”
Liriano attempted to become the first Tigers pitcher not named Justin Verlander to throw a no-hitter since 1984, but Haniger’s line-drive single with one out in the seventh ended his run at history. The lefty already has one no-hitter to his credit, blanking the White Sox while walking six in a 1-0 win on May 3, 2011, as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
Haniger reached on a two-out walk in the first inning, one of two in the inning for Liriano, before 17 straight Mariners failed to reach base.
“Great feeling for me to be able to go out there and go deep in the game,” Liriano said. “That’s my whole mentality every five days. Very happy for it.”
A one-out walk by third baseman Gordon Beckham in the eighth briefly appeared to end Liriano’s night. Liriano held out the ball for manager Ron Gardenhire as he walked out for a mound visit, but stayed in and struck out pinch-hitter Mike Zunino and left fielder Andrew Romine to end his night, finishing with five strikeouts and three walks over 102 pitches.
“Great performance by Liriano,” Gardenhire said. “Exactly what we asked for before the day. Get deep into the game with our starter and figure out a way to get your closer in there. It just didn’t work out.”
First baseman John Hicks provided Detroit with its only offense, launching a 1-1 pitch from Seattle starter Wade LeBlanc deep into the left-field bullpen with two outs in the first for his fifth home run of the season. LeBlanc quickly retired the first two batters of the game before a single by Nicholas Castellanos set up Hicks’ second homer of the season against his former team.
LeBlanc lasted 5 1/3 innings before a single by catcher James McCann ended his day. He gave up seven hits while striking out five with no walks.
RHP Nick Vincent (2-1) picked up the win for the Mariners, allowing one hit and striking out two in the 11th.