The Mariners were one hit away from making dubious history Saturday night.
And if Mariner third baseman Kyle Seager hadn’t led off the fifth inning with a single on an 0-1 fastball from Cleveland pitcher Josh Tomlin, the 23,012 in attendance at Safeco Field at least would have had a story to tell forever.
Instead, Cleveland’s 5-0 victory — in which Seager’s hit represented the only base runner for Seattle — was a game the Mariners said they would try as quickly as possible to forget.
“Just a bad game all the way around,’’ said Mariner manager Lloyd McClendon. “The stars just didn’t align up for us tonight in a lot of different ways.’’
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They did in almost legendary fashion for Tomlin, who struck out a career-high 11 in throwing the first career shutout in his 64th start.
It was the 22nd time Seattle has been held to one hit or fewer (which includes three no-hitters and one perfect game) and the first time since April 9 against the Angels.
Tomlin, who was inserted into Cleveland’s rotation last month, had been roughed up by the Angels and Detroit in his past two starts (10 earned runs in 91/3 innings).
But he was just about untouchable Saturday night.
“I don’t know — I really don’t know,’’ Tomlin said when asked to explain the quick turnabout. “I was finally back to commanding my fastball, and good things happen when I can do that.”
And maybe it was just Safeco Field, a park where he has always pitched well. He’s now 4-0 here in four career starts.
He kept the Mariners off-balance from the start with an assortment pitches, all of which he was able to command with ease, throwing 77 strikes in 111 total pitches.
“He threw a lot of different pitches,’’ said Seager. “A fastball, he kind of short-arms it a little bit and it gets up on you pretty good. A little cutter, a change, a big curveball, one of them had a little bit more like a slider-bite to it. So he was throwing a lot of different pitches and all of them were in the zone or right near the zone.’’
Seager was the only Mariner to really do much with Tomlin.
In the second, he blasted a drive to right field that appeared headed for extra bases until Ryan Raburn leapt up and grabbed it.
“I thought I hit enough of it to get it over his head,’’ Seager said.
Seager then led off the fifth with a no-doubt single to left.
Tomlin called it a fastball away. And while it was a pitch that might have prevented him from immortality, Tomlin said he had no regrets.
“That stuff doesn’t really bother me,’’ he said. “If it’s the seventh inning or something, then you might start thinking about it. But my main goal is to go deep in games. If it had happened later, obviously, you understand you’re doing something pretty special.”
Otherwise, the Mariners usually went down meekly against Tomlin.
“He threw his pitches right into the spots where he wanted,’’ said the Mariners’ Robinson Cano.
The same could not be said of Mariner starter Roenis Elias, who allowed six hits and five runs over six innings, including two in the first, continuing his struggles getting out of the gate — he has now allowed 19 earned runs in the first two innings and 28 in the rest.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699