The Mariners’ historic 20-game season-opening home run streak was extended for a few minutes in the third inning on Wednesday.
With one out and nobody on, third baseman Ryon Healy sat on a hanging slider and rocketed a liner toward the left-field corner. The ball thudded into the dark green padding beside the foul pole and was ruled a home run. Cue the fireworks. Cue the applause. Cue the triumphant trot. Cue Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” somehow branded a Seattle staple.
Cue the review.
Kill the streak.
Before Healy had even begun to round the bases, Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was motioning to his dugout, requesting a video review. It took all of 48 seconds for plate umpire Mike Muchlinski to throw on a headset and reverse the ruling.
“I really didn’t see the result (off the bat),” Healy said. “I didn’t know whether it was fair or foul until our video crew told me and our bench coach told me to put my helmet back on. That’s a roller coaster of emotions right there.”
To this point, at least, the Mariners’ season has been pretty similar.
Instead of setting off the scoring, Healy struck out looking two pitches later. The Mariners managed just three hits and fell to the Cleveland Indians, 1-0.
“That’s a first for me,” Healy said. “I’ve never done the full jog around the bases (before having a homer overturned). Normally you get it (overturned) earlier than that.
“I don’t think it really bothered me until I finished the at-bat. That’s when I was like, ‘Well, that sucked.’ But what are you going to do?”
The answer, in this case, was that the Mariners did very little. They lost their sixth consecutive game and were swept for the second straight series following an improbable 13-2 start. A week ago, Healy’s near-homer would likely have landed a couple more inches to the right. The Mariners’ first hit of the game would have come well before the bottom of the fourth inning.
And Erik Swanson certainly would not have been saddled with a tough-luck loss.
The 25-year-old Swanson — who replaced injured left-hander Wade LeBlanc in Seattle’s rotation — shined in his first career start, allowing just two hits and one earned run while striking out five in six innings. Swanson didn’t walk a single Indian, and 50 of the rookie’s 81 pitches were strikes.
“Erik Swanson was outstanding,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We talked about coming into the season (that this is) a year of opportunity. A lot of young guys are going to get opportunities. He’s getting one and he took advantage of one today.”
Added Swanson: “There were a few things that I wish I would have done differently, but for the most part I was happy with (my performance). I had a lot really good plays made behind me that definitely helped with that outcome as well. But yeah, I’m happy with it.”
Swanson’s lone blemish was a loud blemish, as Indians first baseman Jake Bauers redirected a 91 mph fastball over the center-field fence in the fifth inning.
Not to be outdone, Seattle relievers Zac Rosscup, Brandon Brennan and Anthony Swarzak combined to allow just one hit while striking out six in three scoreless frames.
But Bauers’ blast was enough for Carrasco, who entered the game with a 1-2 record and a 12.60 ERA but struck out 12 in seven shutout innings on Wednesday. The Mariners (13-8) struck out 14 times in all, and that’s a trend. In their six-game losing streak, the suddenly blind Seattle bats registered more than twice as many strikeouts (72) as hits (34).
“Six days ago we could score runs whenever we wanted to,” Servais said. “That’s baseball. It’s got an ebb and flow to it. We’ve got to get back to doing what we do, and that’s controlling the strike zone. And when you get pitches to hit you’ve got to put a good swing on them and square them up, and we just haven’t done that in this homestand.”
Except, of course, for Healy, who launched a laser into the left-field corner but wasn’t able to will it fair.
“You can’t lie to slow motion (video),” Healy concluded. “That’s the issue.”
Servais added: “It’s crazy. It is a game of inches, and it certainly played out that way today.”
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