They talked briefly in the dugout after the seventh inning, and then Marlins manager Don Mattingly made his decision quickly and decisively. Wei-Yin Chen was informed that 100 pitches were enough on Tuesday night.
"It really wasn't that hard of a decision," Mattingly said of pulling Chen. "I'd love to see him throw a no-no. If he's at 70 [pitches] going into the eighth, or he's at a range that's closer, I'm going to give him a shot at it. But not when he's there. I can't do that to him, and I can't really do it to our club."
The Marlins are handling Chen with care, and for good reason. The 31-year-old missed nearly two months in the second half of 2016 due to a left-elbow sprain. As Mattingly noted, Chen has also previously dealt with a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow.
So after navigating through a stressful seventh inning, Chen accepted the decision.
"Don talked to me at the end of the seventh inning," Chen said through an interpreter. "If given the choice, of course, any pitcher would like to go out there and keep pitching. But Don also gave me his reasoning. That he wanted to keep me healthy for the whole season, so under that situation, I tried not to think about it too much. It's his decision to make."
It's the second time in three days the Marlins flirted with a combined no-hitter. On Sunday, in a 4-2 walk-off win against the Mets, Dan Straily was lifted after 93 pitches in the sixth inning.
Chen became the first Miami starter to complete seven innings this season.
"He was good," Mattingly said. "I told him I couldn't let him go to 130 [pitches], in that range. I really don't care what anybody thinks. Not necessarily him. I care what he thinks, but anybody else, other than that, I'm going to protect him, and I'm going to protect our club."
The seventh inning started with a walk to Haniger, and with one out, Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch, putting two Mariners baserunners on. Chen struck out Kyle Seager, and on the lefty's 100th and final pitch, he retired Taylor Motter on a popout to third base.
Chen's final line was seven innings, two walks, two strikeouts and a hit batter. The outing was a clinic in efficiency.
Chen didn't yield a hit, despite inducing only five swinging strikes. The 5-percent swinging-strike rate is his third-lowest in a game in the Statcast™ era (since 2015), with a minimum of 80 pitches.
The hardest hit ball Chen allowed was Motter's long flyout to deep center in the fifth. Per Statcast™, the exit velocity was 99.8 mph, with a hit probability of 64 percent.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.