The Mariners tied the game game in the ninth, took the lead in the 10th and Edwin Diaz got his 50th save of the season in a stunning 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
PHOENIX — The Mariners were done. Opportunities were squandered. Base runners were stranded. Failure with runners in scoring position was followed by more failure. They had so many chances to secure a victory Saturday night and tossed them aside in a galling fashion. Just another game lost in the season and in their quest to overcome the A’s for the second wild-card spot.
But that final out to seal an assumed fate was never realized.
The game the Mariners had no business winning somehow turned into an absurd 4-3 victory over the Diamondbacks thanks to an unlikely series of events that wasn’t expected and left manager Scott Servais running his hand through his hair postgame. It’s a reaction that could feel a little different to the touch in the coming days.
“It was awesome,” Servais said. “I can’t say enough about the fight in our guys.”
The fight for their first eight innings was with themselves and their failure to take advantage of a parade of base runners.
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Going into the ninth inning, the Mariners were trailing 3-1 — a result of going 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranding 10 runners on base. Twice they had the bases loaded with one out and came away with nothing. So even when Jean Segura worked a walk against Arizona reliever Brad Boxberger and Nelson Cruz singled to put runners on the corners, there was still little reason to believe things might change.
Down to their final out, Kyle Seager, who had personally marooned a small village of runners on the bases, stepped to the plate.
In the dugut, Servais noted to others that Seager was due for something good to happen.
“I said it on the bench, ‘Now’s the time,’ ” Servais said.
Seager came through with the Mariners’ first and only hit with runners in scoring position, pulling a changeup from Boxberger down the right-field line. The line drive stayed just fair and bounced into the right-field corner. Segura was able to jog home from third while pinch runner Andrew Romine scored from first base to tie the game at 3-3.
“I was real fortunate that the ball stayed fair,” Seager said.
Based on the results of this season, there was little reason to think it would. Though Seager won’t allow himself to sink into the spiral of negativity that’s circling him from frustrated fans.
“What’s cool about baseball is that it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done before that,” Seager said. “It’s not like your season starts over or anything like that. But what you’ve done in your previous 400 to 500 at-bats doesn’t matter in that moment. It’s just that one at-bat. It’s a cool game in that sense.”
An inning later, Denard Span gave the Mariners the lead in the 10th, crushing a 95-mph fastball off nasty lefty Jake Diekman into the swimming pool in deep right-center to break the 3-3 tie.
More impressively, Span did it with a broken bat. Before Friday’s game, Span noticed a crack in the handle of one of his bats and asked the bat boy to put it aside. But the bat boy only put it to the side of the bat rack. So in the 10th, Span mistakenly grabbed the cracked bat on his way to the plate. He didn’t even know it after the homer either.
“I didn’t know it,” he said. “I grabbed it without knowing.”
The ball still traveled 412 feet.
“Is that how far it went?” Span said. “How about that. I did work out before the game too.”
Given his usual one-run lead to close out a win, Edwin Diaz notched his 50th save of the season, winning his friendly bet with Servais that means the Mariners manager must get a haircut to match his closer. But it was far from easy. Diaz allowed back-to-back hits to start the inning, putting runners on first and third with no outs.
But he got a big out when Steven Souza grounded to third and Seager was able to fire home and get Paul Goldschmidt hung up in a run down for the first out.
After a nine-pitch at-bat, Nick Ahmed flew out to center. The final out came when Mitch Haniger ran down a deep drive to left-center off the bat of former Mariner Ketel Marte for the final out.
“I knew I got a good jump,” Haniger said. “I didn’t know if it would carry. Once it reached its peak, I knew I would get it.”
Diaz handed the game ball to Servais to commemorate the 50th save and his winning wager.
“Pretty cool,” Servais said. “That’s a save that Eddie and all of us will remember. First and third with nobody out and to wiggle out of it.”
And the haircut?
“We are trying to get the barber to come down as soon as possible,” Diaz said.
The Mariners got a solid outing from lefty Wade LeBlanc. After struggling in his last outing against the Dodgers, LeBlanc came back to throw six innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He exited after throwing 92 pitches.
Seattle grabbed a 1-0 lead on the second pitch of the game. Haniger continued to torment his former team, smashing a homer to deep left-center off Arizona starter Robbie Ray. It gave Haniger 22 homers on the season and homers in back-to-back games.
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out, but in a sign of things to come the rest of the game, Seager and Mike Zunino both struck out to end the rally.
LeBlanc’s only run allowed came in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer from Eduardo Escobar that tied the game at 1-1.
It remained that way until the seventh inning when LeBlanc exited the game. Right-hander Nick Vincent gave up a leadoff single and Nick Ahmed walked Ketel Marte. A sac bunt from John Ryan Murphy put the runners into scoring position. With lefty-swinging pinch hitter Jon Jay at the plate, the Mariners countered with lefty Zach Duke. But the move didn’t yield the expected results for Seattle. Jay stuck his knee out on an inside curveball from Duke for a hit by pitch to load the bases.
Servais went to right-hander Adam Warren with the top of the order coming to the plate. But A.J. Pollock was able to reach down and line a low 2-2 pitch out of the strike zone into left field for a two-run single.