Marlins pitcher Wei-Yin Chen talks about near no-hitter Tuesday
The Marlins had a no-hitter in sight for the second time in three days.
They were denied at the doorstep once again.
The Marlins prevailed 5-0 Tuesday night at Safeco Field.
But when Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger smacked a double off Kyle Barraclough with one out in the ninth inning, it forced the Marlins to settle for a combined one-hitter between him, Wei-Yin Chen and Brad Ziegler.
Ironically, Barraclough and Haniger were teammates on the Palomino Red Sox, a travel team in California during their youth baseball days.
“We kind of grew up in the same area and played little league together,” Barraclough said. “I guess giving it up to someone, it’s good to help a friend out I guess.”
Barraclough and Haniger went to different high schools in California with Barraclough attending Wilcox in Santa Clara and Haniger going to Archbishop Mitty in San Jose.
But Barraclough said the two have kept in touch and seen each other on occasion.
“I texted him after the game,” Barraclough said. “I told him, ‘hey, good piece of hitting. You stayed on that ball well.”
The Marlins (8-6) won their fourth game in their past five, but fell painfully short of what would have been their first combined no-hitter and sixth in club history only two days after carrying a similar pitching effort into the eighth against the Mets.
Wei-Yin Chen allowed only two walks and hit one batter through seven innings before being pulled by manager Don Mattingly after 100 pitches.
It was the longest outing of the season so far by a Marlins starter.
The Marlins have not had a starter finish a game since June 3rd, 2014 – a streak of 441 consecutive games.
“[Chen]’s coming back [from an injury last year],” Mattingly said. “He’s been healthy, but I’m not going to let him go to 130 [pitches].
“He understood. We talked about it. I really don’t care what anybody thinks. I care what he thinks, but anybody else other than that, I’m going to protect him and I’m going to protect our club, so at that point it wasn’t really that hard of a decision.”
Regardless of not completing the no-hitter, Chen’s outing was drastically better than his previous start when he gave up six runs on seven hits in only three innings this past Thursday against the Mets.
“He was on a mission to right the ship a little bit for himself,” said A.J. Ellis, who caught Tuesday’s game. “His mix [of pitches] was good. He used both sides of the plate extremely well. When he needed to use his off-speed pitches he was effective and when he needed his fastball he was effective as well. It was a tremendous outing.”
Chen retired the first 11 batters he faced before walking Robinson Cano in the fourth. But he recovered quickly forcing Nelson Cruz to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Chen worked a perfect fifth and sixth innings before walking Haniger to lead off the seventh. After a fielder’s choice grounder by Cano led to the first out, Chen grazed Cruz with a pitch to put two runners on. Chen again worked out of trouble by striking out Kyle Seager and forcing an inning-ending pop-up from Taylor Motter.
“I think my changeup was working pretty well,” Chen said. “Ellis, he was leading me very effectively. He called the pitches very well. And my solid defense behind me.”
Brad Ziegler, who gave up the hit to Neil Walker against the Mets that broke Sunday’s no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning, successfully protected it Tuesday with a scoreless eighth.
“Chen was incredible,” Ziegler said. “It was fun to watch for a while. And then fun to be a part of, too.”
But after striking out Guillermo Heredia, Haniger smacked a fastball from Barraclough into the right-center field gap to end the suspense.
“You’re in a really tough spot there,” Ellis said. “You’re chasing a no-hitter and you’re chasing a win. We kind of fell in a 2-1 hitter’s count but Barraclough’s fastball isn’t a cupcake for anybody.
“Give a lot of credit to [Haniger]. He’s been swinging the bat extremely well and did what he was supposed to do in that situation. I would have loved to have gotten the count back to 2-2 and tried to finish him off with the slider.”
Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, A.J. Burnett, Anibal Sanchez and Henderson Alvarez remain the only pitchers in Marlins’ history to throw a no-hitter with Alvarez pitching the most recent on Sept. 29, 2013 in the final game of that season.
While Chen shut down the Mariners, the Marlins had no trouble early against Yovani Gallardo scoring four runs over the first three innings.
Justin Bour provided the big blast in the third inning with an opposite field two-run home run.
Dee Gordon hit the first pitch of the game into the right center field gap for a double. Following a single by J.T. Realmuto, Christian Yelich drove in the first run when he hit a ball that bounced off home plate and high enough to give him time to reach first on an infield single.