SEATTLE — Tim Lopes didn’t remember much about his home-run swing, or his first major-league trot around the bases, and he didn’t know what to do when the T-Mobile Park crowd continued to roar while he celebrated with teammates in the home dugout.
“I don’t remember much about what happened in that short time. It’s kind of all a blur right now,” the rookie said later, standing in front of his Mariners locker.
It was Tim Laker, the Mariners hitting coach, who finally nudged Lopes toward the top step of the dugout.
It was there that Lopes raised his helmet and acknowledged the curtain call from a crowd of 24,020 Tuesday night.
Lopes’ first big-league home run, and first hit in his fourth big-league plate appearance, will end up as only a footnote in the Mariners’ 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres.
But in a lost year for Seattle, it’s those moments that the Mariners will have to savor over the season’s final seven weeks.
“Great thrill. Great thrill for him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s too bad we weren’t on the right side of the game. If we had won the ballgame you can enjoy it a little bit more. … The guys in the dugout realized it too. Certainly, your first homer being your first hit, it’s certainly special for him.”
The Mariners had trailed 8-0 entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
Lopes had entered the game as a defensive substitution in the top of the eighth as a replacement for Daniel Vogelbach, who was ejected for arguing a called third strike. (A regular second baseman, Lopes played outfield just for the second time in his pro career.)
In his first at-bat of the game, Lopes belted a 95-mph fastball from Adrian Morejon 397 feet over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. He knew it was gone when he hit it, and teammates in the bullpen were able to retrieve the ball for him.
He planned to give the ball to his dad.
“Something I definitely will never forget — just something I’ll cherish in my heart forever, for sure,” Lopes said.
The moment was even more meaningful for Lopes because it was his first game since he was hit by a pitch in the left earflap against Texas on July 25. He was diagnosed with a concussion, and Tuesday was his first game back since being activated from the concussion list.
The first seven innings of the game were much the same for the Mariners.
At least, the Mariners didn’t make history.
And the Padres didn’t either.
At 8:58 p.m., on Dinelson Lamet’s 93rd pitch of the evening, with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Mariners’ catcher Omar Narvaez hit a line-drive single to right field.
That single hit in a game between two last-place teams on a Tuesday night in August became newsworthy because it was the Mariners’ first hit of the game against Lamet, San Diego’s 27-year-old right-hander making his sixth start since returning from Tommy John surgery in April 2018.
That hit became newsworthy also because it prevented the Mariners from getting no-hit for the third time in one season, something that’s never happened to one team in major-league history and it prevented the Padres from securing their first no-hitter in 51 years as a major-league club. They are the only team in the MLB without one, a span that covers 8,088 games since the club’s inception in 1969, according to the Twitter account @PadresNoHitter.
After Narvaez’s seventh-inning single, Kyle Seager followed with an opposite-field double to left field. That put runners on second and third with two outs.
Lamet got Austin Nola to pop out for the second out and then struck out Dylan Moore swinging at a 96-mph fastball for the third out, stranding both runners.
After 104 pitches, his night complete, Lamet walked back to the visitors’ dugout to a standing ovation from the dozens of Padres’ fans seated along the third-base line.
Lamet finished with 12 strikeouts, four walks and just the two hits allowed.
The Mariners (47-68) have lost five in a row.
Mariners opener Matt Wisler pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, and Wade LeBlanc followed with three sharp innings.
The Padres then hit LeBlanc for five runs in the fifth inning. Their third run came on a successful suicide-squeeze bunt by catcher Austin Hedges, and two pitches later 20-year-old rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. belted a two-run home run to the second deck beyond left field, his 20th homer of the season.
Tatis homered on a changeup from LeBlanc, who strongly hinted his frustration about the new baseball being used in the majors this year.
“It was changeup and it cut — and I don’t know why I threw a changeup that cut,” the veteran left-hander said. “It seems like there’s been a lot of pitches this year that did what they’ve never done before, so take that for what you want.”