SEATTLE (AP) — Anytime Nelson Cruz sees something awkward from a pitcher in his delivery, his default is to start screaming that it’s a balk, even if it’s not.
For a change, Cruz was exactly right. He pointed and yelled at Los Angeles’ Dylan Floro, who was called for a balk with one out in the 10th inning that scored Cameron Maybin and gave the Seattle Mariners a 5-4 win over the Dodgers on Saturday night.
“He screams balk every opportunity he can, and tonight he finally got one,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “That’s Nellie’s thing. He screams it. He’ll yell it when he’s on the bases, when he’s in the dugout, even in the batter’s box. Anytime the pitcher does anything that looks a little different, he starts screaming balk and he said he called it tonight.”
Seattle loaded the bases with one out, and with a one-strike count on Kyle Seager, Floro initiated his delivery before stepping off the mound. First base umpire Andy Fletcher called him for the game-ending balk. There was little argument from Floro, although Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts sought an explanation as Seattle celebrated the odd victory.
“That was a tough one. It’s (a balk) obviously when you’re trying to deceive the runner. Obviously, there was no intent to deceive. I thought he stepped off in time, but I looked back at the replay and there was a little bit of a buckle of the knee,” Roberts said.
Seattle led 4-1 entering the eighth inning, but Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy all hit solo home runs to force extra innings. Seattle improved to 12-1 in extra-inning games and 31-16 in one-run games this season.
Mitch Haniger led off the 10th with a line-drive single to right on the first pitch from Caleb Ferguson (3-2). Maybin hit into a fielder’s choice. Robinson Cano followed with an infield single, but Brian Dozier’s diving stop of the grounder kept Maybin from reaching third.
Floro entered and walked Cruz to load the bases before his mistake. Maybin said he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary to try and shake Floro, and he could hear Cruz yelling from across the field.
“I think (Justin) Turner tried to deke me a little bit, so when he did his little move I kind of jumped a little bit and might have startled him a little bit,” Maybin said. “However you can get them, you take them.”
The Mariners remained 3½ games out of first place in the AL West, while the Dodgers wasted a chance to move closer to first-place Arizona in the NL West.