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Haniger tumbles into stands for fantastic catch

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Mitch Haniger has opened eyes with his hot start at the plate this season, but the Mariners' right fielder can do work with the glove as well.

Haniger made one of the best catches so far this season in the fifth inning of Saturday's 7-2 win over the Tigers, tumbling over the short fence down the right-field line to haul in a foul ball by Jose Iglesias.

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SEATTLE -- Mitch Haniger has opened eyes with his hot start at the plate this season, but the Mariners' right fielder can do work with the glove as well.

Haniger made one of the best catches so far this season in the fifth inning of Saturday's 7-2 win over the Tigers, tumbling over the short fence down the right-field line to haul in a foul ball by Jose Iglesias.

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"It wasn't too bad," Haniger said of his crash landing. "It probably looked worse than it was. Luckily nothing too serious. I landed on my elbow, a little bit of head, back. But nothing too bad."

Haniger flipped backward as he made the catch, then bounded back over the wall and came up firing to home plate as the Tigers' Niko Goodrum had tagged at second and was running on the play. Goodrum was sent back to third by home plate umpire Rob Drake since it was a dead ball once Haniger went out of play.

Several fans had a chance to catch Haniger, but instead stepped back while he came crashing down. But the 27-year-old wasn't complaining.

"Just don't get in the way and let me make the catch. So that was good," Haniger said. "Whatever you can do. Hopefully it's not too hard of a fall. I've ran into a lot of walls, but never gone over one before."

Manager Scott Servais was just glad to see Haniger emerge unscathed.

"That low wall over there has always worried me," Servais said. "Somebody is going to take a header in there. He got there and flipping over there like that, all the outs are big. Our guys are playing hard. They don't really care. You've seen what [Guillermo] Heredia can do in center field. There's a good flow to our defense right now."

The catch helped fire up the Mariners as the Tigers had scored once already and were threatening to tie the game at 3 with Goodrum perched on second.

"It's unbelievable," said catcher Mike Zunino. "That play was a big turning point in the game in the sense of momentum. A big out there to keep his [starter James Paxton] pitch count down. It was reminiscent of [Shawn] O'Malley going over that wall [two years ago]. It's great to see a guy who has swung the bat so well for us and plays great defense put his body there and help us out."

Haniger is leading the Mariners with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs and has moved into the No. 3 spot in the Mariners' lineup now that Robinson Cano is suspended for 80 games.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger