Mariners rally past Oakland with two-run homer by Chris Herrmann in the 11th inning. The 10-8 victory gave Houston the AL West division title.
Hours after the shortest start of Mariners starter Mike Leake’s nine-season, big-league career, Seattle finished off one of its most exciting wins of the year.
Leake was out after 1 1/3 innings, but the Mariners kept battling, finally catching the A’s with two outs in the ninth inning, tying the score at 8 on Kyle Seager’s pinch-hit single.
Then, in the 11th inning, Chris Herrmann hit a two-run homer, giving the Mariners a 10-8 win Tuesday night, sending the few thousand remaining fans at Safeco Field home happy.
Oakland’s loss clinched the American League West title for Houston, and the A’s will be one of the AL’s two wild-card teams.
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“The fans that were here got their money’s worth,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “Heck of a comeback by our guys. We kept grinding and chipping away, and we got the big hits late in the game.”
Leake’s night was over long before the late-inning heroics. He gave up six runs and eight hits, but a bevy of Mariner relievers — they used nine — kept it close enough.
“That was the key; they gave us a chance to stay in it,” Servais said.
Down 8-5, the Mariners scored two runs off former Seattle closer Fernando Rodney on two walks, two wild pitches and a two-run double by Denard Span.
It didn’t look good in the ninth against the A’s brilliant closer, Blake Treinen, particularly after he got the first two outs. Nelson Cruz then singled, but the game appeared over when Ryon Healy hit a grounder to third. Matt Chapman seemed unsure whether to get the out at first or second, then bobbled the ball for an error.
Seager then tied it with a sharp single to right field.
The A’s got a gift from the Mariners in the first inning, and like good teams do, they made the opponent pay. Leake retired the first two hitters, then Jed Lowrie hit a grounder to shortstop that Jean Segura got to with a diving stop.
His throw was a bit low, but definitely catchable for first baseman Healy. But Healy could not come up with it and it was generously ruled a hit. Then came three more hits, the first on a broken-bat blooper to right field by Matt Olson, and the Mariners found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
Seattle quickly got the runs back. Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura had singles to lead off the inning, and Cruz tied the score when his line drive to right-center field just cleared the fence.
But Leake, who all of sudden found himself even again, gave up three more runs in the second, including a two-run triple to Nick Martini, and Servais relieved him with one out in the second inning. It was only the third time in the right-hander’s career that he has failed to get through two innings as a starter. The last time it happened was in 2013.
Oakland starter Brett Anderson did not fare much better, allowing five runs before being pulled with one out in the third inning, long before the wild finish.
It was the fourth career walkoff hit for Herrmann, this one coming off former Mariner Emiliano Pagan.
“I am happy for Chris Herrmann,” Servais said. “To come off the bench like that. He’s got some pop and we were hoping he would run into one, and he put a really good swing on it.”
One more start for Paxton?
Servais said Marco Gonzales will be the starting pitcher Thursday against the Texas Rangers and Wade LeBlanc will start Friday. The team is weighing several different options for the final two games Saturday and Sunday.
The team is hopeful that James Paxton, who returned Monday after being out with pneumonia, will be able to make a start in the final weekend.
Servais said Paxton would be limited to 80 to 85 pitches if he does start.
M’s announce minor-league awards
It Mariners announced the award winners from their minor-league system. Two years ago, the Mariners renamed the awards to honor former players in the organization and also added a few awards to highlight organizational developmental philosophies.
1B/DH Joey Curletta (Class AA Arkansas) received the Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year; right-hander Matt Festa (Seattle/Arkansas) received the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year; 1B Evan White (High-Class A Modesto/AAA Tacoma) received the Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award; OF Braden Bishop (Arkansas) received the Dan Wilson Minor League Community Service Award; C/INF/DH Dean Nevarez (Arizona Rookie League) received the Edgar Martinez Protective Team Plate Appearance Award; right-hander Jack Anderson (Modesto) won the “60 ft. 6 in. Club” Award for embodying the team’s control the zone” philosophy; and manager Jose Umbria (Class A Clinton) received the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award.