With one out in the bottom of the third inning on Monday, a brave woman in the upper deck behind home plate attempted to resuscitate the sleepy crowd counting sheep inside T-Mobile Park.
"Every-body clap-your-hands!" she shouted, waiting in vain for an obedient applause.
"Every-body clap-your-hands!" she repeated, as if all her audience needed was a firm, prodding push.
Turns out, what it really needed was a 98 mph fastball in the middle of the plate. Trailing 4-1 with one out in the eighth inning, Mariners designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach redirected a Lou Trivino fastball over the wall in dead center to tie the game. The 250-pound tank engine pumped his fist and unleashed a guttural growl as he rounded first base, but his battle cry was lost amid the T-Mobile buzz.
It was an unexpected surge of decibels for a fan base desperately searching for reasons to cheer.
And it wasn't over yet.
After he walked the bases loaded but escaped the top of the ninth inning unscathed, Mariners reliever Brandon Brennan finally got bit in the 10th. With two outs and nobody on, center fielder Ramon Laureano – who had been 0-for-4 to that point – jumped on an 85 mph changeup and launched a solo homer over the left field wall.
After A's reliever Joakim Soria retired the first two Mariners in order to begin the bottom of the 10th inning, Vogelbach – who else? – extended the game with a walk. Dee Gordon then replaced him as a pinch runner and swiped second base, before a Domingo Santana double down the left field line tied the game again. Catcher Omar Narvaez then lined a single to left and Santana came around to score, delivering the Mariners a 6-5 win.
Monday's game provided a moment of relief for the struggling Mariners. Since topping Kansas City and improving to 13-2 on April 10, the Mariners had lost 21 of their last 28 games. Most recently, they capped an awful 2-8 road trip by being outscored 34-8 in a three-game sweep in Boston.
It's true, there have not been many reasons to cheer. But Yusei Kikuchi has been an outlier. The 27-year-old rookie logged six-plus innings on Monday, allowing five hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out five. That marked the third consecutive quality start for Kikuchi (2-1), who has surrendered just five earned runs with 20 strikeouts and four walks in his last 22.2 innings.
Still, Kikuchi's start was marred by three loud mistakes. A's left fielder Mark Canha, designated hitter Khris Davis and first baseman Matt Olson all saddled the rookie lefty with solo home runs, the last of which chased Kikuchi from the game to lead off the seventh inning. Davis struck again in the eighth, sending another solo homer out to left on the third pitch of reliever Austin Adams' Mariners career. Cory Gearrin added a scoreless inning of relief as well.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career in his last start on May 7, allowing two walks while striking out six and serving up 131 pitches in a 2-0 win over Cincinnati.
Any hope for another no-hitter left the park in a hurry on Monday.
That's because, with a 2-2 count to open the game, Mariners leadoff hitter Mitch Haniger turned on a 90 mph fastball and skied a solo homer over the "Edgar's" sign and into the upper deck in left field. Fiers rebounded, surrendering just two hits and one earned run while walking three and striking out four in five innings.
But the Mariners rallied late. And, by the end, it looked like everybody was clapping.