SEATTLE — While trying to help his batters solve Bartolo Colon, Seattle manger Lloyd McClendon couldn’t avoid thinking about the possible outcome as the later innings arrived.
The idea of Colon tossing a perfect game never left McClendon’s mind until Robinson Cano’s two-out single in the seventh inning.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. It was definitely as possibility,” McClendon said.
Colon came within seven outs of a perfect game, giving up a single to Robinson Cano with two outs in the seventh inning, and the New York Mets held off a late rally to beat the Mariners 3-2 on Wednesday.
The 41-year-old Colon retired the first 20 batters he faced before Cano lined a 2-2 pitch into left field. Colon turned an applauded as the ball bounced to left fielder Eric Young Jr., knowing his shot at throwing the first perfect game in Mets’ history was gone.
“You’re a little disappointed when they get a hit, but that’s what they’re trying to do,” Colon said through an interpreter. “They’re trying to get a hit and break up the no-hitter.”
Seattle rallied in the eighth and ninth inning but wasn’t able to pull even, another disappointing day where the Mariners’ need for additional offensive punch was at the forefront.
Colon (9-8) improved to 13-1 all-time at Safeco Field, including his dominance of the Mariners when he was pitching for the Angels. Seattle had no answers for the rotund right-hander, who gave up two runs and three hits in 7 1-3 innings.
“He was a Cy Young class guy,” Cano said. “He knows how to pitch. Back in the day when the guy threw hard, everything was middle of the plate, fastball. Now you see a different guy that moves the ball, both sides, and a pretty good change up.”
Corey Hart led off the eighth walking on a 3-2 pitch, just the fourth three-ball count Colon reached. After a fly out, Dustin Ackley singled to right, bringing the tying run to the plate.
Brad Miller nearly tied it with one swing, doubling off the top of the wall in right-center, missing a home run by only a couple of feet. Hart scored and Ackley was held at third. That was it for Colon, replaced by Jeurys Familia.
Willie Bloomquist pinch-hit and his infield groundout — initially ruled a hit before review — scored Ackley. Familia struck out Endy Chavez swinging on a breaking ball with Miller at third base.
Jenrry Mejia got his 13th save pitching the ninth, despite giving up a pair of singles.
“Robinson broke the ice, but they shut the door at the end,” Miller said. “They brought in two pretty good pitchers and were able to hold us off.”
Colon was given an early lead thanks to control problems by Seattle starter Taijuan Walker. Young walked on four pitches to start the game, stole second on a pick-off attempt and scored on Daniel Murphy’s RBI double. That was the only hit allowed by Walker until David Wright led off the sixth with a single, but the Mariners’ 21-year-old prospect struggled with control all day. Walker (1-2) walked six and struck out five in his first start in the majors since July 7.
With Seattle not needing a fifth starter for a while, Walker was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma after the game.
“My fastball command was better. Later in the game it wasn’t there, but I battled and kept the team in it as much as I could,” Walker said.
Walker also recovered from a scary moment in the fifth when he hit New York’s Ruben Tejada in the helmet with a 94 mph fastball. Tejada instantly crumpled to the ground before walking off the field on his own power. Tejada passed initial testing and was expected to fly with the team to Milwaukee.
“I never hit anyone in the head before. Definitely scary, but I heard he was OK,” Walker said.