After a second consecutive disappointing loss at T-Mobile Park, the Mariners are officially headed on the road to start the playoffs.

Thanks to the combined forces of a 4-3 Mariners loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday and a 5-1 Toronto Blue Jays (91-69) victory over Baltimore, the Mariners (87-72) will first have to win the wild-card series on the road if they want to play their first home playoff game since 2001. 

The soonest the Mariners can host is in the American League Division Series. 

Where they will play in the first round is to be determined, as the Mariners lead Tampa Bay (86-74) by 1.5 games in the wild-card standings with three games to play in the regular season. 

The Mariners’ magic number to clinch the second wild-card spot is two, as Tampa Bay has just two games to play. With a Mariners win and a Rays loss, the Mariners could book a flight to Toronto. 

If the Rays claim the second spot and Seattle falls to third, the Mariners would play at Cleveland. 

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Monday’s loss also came with a cost, as Sam Haggerty left the game in the ninth inning because of a groin injury suffered after stealing second base.

“It was kind of his groin area,” manager Scott Servais said. “So he will have an MRI [Tuesday] morning, and we’ll know more then. [Haggerty] has had such a great season, kind of like that sparkplug guy; you fire him in there, and he makes things happen. Sure enough, gets a big hit late in the game tonight, got a great jump, and he just kind of let his guard down. I think he thought he had the base stolen pretty easy, and he did. Just made a late slide, and caught the bag wrong.”

With star rookie Julio Rodriguez back in the lineup after a 10-day absence because of a lower-back strain, the Mariners managed seven hits against the Tigers, with Detroit starter Bryan Garcia giving up three earned runs and five hits over 6⅔ innings. 

Rodriguez had three hits, with a single to lead off the bottom of the first inning, another single with one out in the third and an RBI double in the seventh. 

Mariners pitcher George Kirby got off to a bumpy start by walking leadoff hitter Akil Baddoo and allowing an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera in the top of the first for a 1-0 Detroit lead, but Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez tied it in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice fly that drove in Rodriguez. 

Kirby’s struggles continued in the third with a pair of walks and a two-run homer from Tigers shortstop Javier Baez. Baez’s shot was the first home run allowed by Kirby since June 27, a span of 14 starts and an MLB high 75⅔ innings, and gave the Tigers a two-run lead.

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Detroit made it 4-1 in the fourth inning when Victor Reyes drove in Kody Clemens with an RBI single. 

Kirby was pulled after four innings in favor of Matt Brash, having allowed four runs on six hits, with three walks and five strikeouts. 

“Just not typical of what we’ve seen from George Kirby, really all year,” Servais said. “Just not real sharp, walked more guys than he normally does in a month in one game tonight. So it was a struggle for him, a lot of foul balls, deep counts, and you know, only getting four innings out of him was not the plan, of course.”

Kirby was frustrated with his three-walk night, which matched his season high. His previous three-walk outing came Sept. 23 against Oakland. 

Before that, Kirby had never allowed more than one walk in a game. 

The Tigers also hit 32 foul balls against Kirby. 

“They made me throw a lot, a lot of foul balls,” Kirby said. “I wasn’t quite executing the way I wanted to. Three walks, I hate that. But they made me work tonight, and I didn’t really go on top.”

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Though Kirby struggled, the Mariners relief corps had a strong outing, as Brash, Matthew Boyd and Diego Castillo combined to throw five scoreless innings with just two hits allowed. 

Boyd threw three innings with one walk and no hits allowed, with five strikeouts. 

In the fifth inning, the Mariners pushed another run across, as second baseman Adam Frazier drove in shortstop Dylan Moore with a single to right field. But Ty France grounded into a double play to snuff out any further Seattle scoring threat. 

Rodriguez came to the plate with two on and two outs in the seventh inning against Tigers right-hander Jose Cisnero, and he lined a double into the left-field gap that scored Haggerty from second base. That put runners at second and third for Seattle, but Cisnero struck out France looking to escape the jam. 

The Mariners struck out 11 times and have whiffed 25 times over the past two games.

Seattle and Detroit will play a traditional doubleheader Tuesday, with Chris Flexen starting in Game 1 and the Mariners using a bullpen day for Game 2.

The doubleheader couldn’t come at a worse time for Servais with the playoffs just days away, but he plans to be careful with his pitching staff over the next couple days to have them ready for whoever they face in the wild-card round.

“You’ve got 27 innings of baseball in right around 28 hours once we tee it up [Tuesday] and get it going,” Servais said. “So we’ve got to be strategic on how we’re going to use guys. Lineups, you’ll probably see a few guys out of position a little bit as we try to rest some others and be very cautious or strategic in how we use our bullpen here going forward.”

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