Mitch Haniger was called out at home plate to end the second inning of an 8-2 loss to Houston. The Mariners say it could have changed the course of the game.

Share story

The Mariners lost 8-2 to the Astros on Sunday to slip back to .500, so maybe one play in the second inning wouldn’t have mattered.

But then again, who knows?

In the second inning of a scoreless game, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano doubled with two outs and the bases loaded. Two runners scored easily. The third, Mitch Haniger, slid home in bang-bang unison with the ball.

He was called out.

The Mariners (39-39) challenged the call, and slow-motion replays appeared to show Haniger’s hand touching the plate before he was tagged.

Or at least that’s what Haniger and Mariners manager Scott Servais thought.

“I thought I got in,” Haniger said, “but they thought otherwise.”

Instead, there was confusion after the play and after the game. Crew chief Angel Hernandez signaled Haniger safe before admitting he’d made the wrong signal (the call on the field stood).

Confusion lingered after the game because Servais didn’t understand why replay officials in New York didn’t change the call.

“We really could have cashed in,” Servais said. “Robbie gets the big double, and we have the play at the plate, which I was shocked was not overturned. Pretty clear to me. We’ve had a few of those lately that have been shocking. Not quite sure what the people in New York are looking at. It’s the same view we have.”

As for the mistaken signal after the review, Servais said: “Angel Hernandez made the signal for the safe sign. Well, if the call stands, he was originally called out. He basically said, ‘I screwed up. I gave the wrong sign.’ I confirmed it with the home-plate umpire. Don’t often see that. Sometimes the eyes go bad; the ears don’t usually go bad. But it was a mistake, and he screwed that up. Kind of a momentum play in the game.”

Cano agreed.

As he reasoned, the Astros would have made a pitching change had Haniger been safe, and thus a reliever would have had to face Nelson Cruz with a runner in scoring position. Instead, he led off the third inning.

Cruz is hitting .324 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.

“If that one would have been called safe, it might have been a different game,” Cano said. “You never know. … It’s a different story. Nellie is one of the best guys with men in scoring position this year.”

This was a big series for the Mariners, which is what Jarrod Dyson and Felix Hernandez said after Friday’s 13-3 win. But the Mariners scored just four combined runs in the last two games — both losses — against the first-place Astros.

“Disappointing ballgame,” Servais said. “I think coming in, we were playing really well coming into this series. The last couple days they just shut us down offensively.”

Mariners’ starter Ariel Miranda allowed only five hits in 71/3 innings. But his problem was that four of those five hits came in the fourth inning.

Miranda allowed a solo home run to George Springer, a single to Jose Altuve, who advanced to second because of a Miranda throwing error, an RBI double to Carlos Correa and, finally, a two-out, two-run home run to Yuli Gurriel.

“The one inning got him,” Servais.

The Mariners didn’t have another base runner until the seventh inning. And just like the first inning, in which they left the bases loaded with one out, they did the same to end the game in the ninth inning.

James Pazos hadn’t allowed a run in his last seven appearances and had allowed just two runs in all of June. But he couldn’t find the strike zone in the ninth inning and allowed four runs to put the game out of reach.

American League RBI leaders for June:
Name Team Total
Mike Zunino Mariners 30
Gary Sanchez Yankees 25
Justin Upton Tigers 24
Jonathan Schoop Orioles 24
Aaron Judge Yankees 22