And now the number is one.

Put simply, the Mariners are one win or one Baltimore loss from ending a postseason drought they begrudgingly inherited, tried to ignore, rationalized their responsibility in it and finally understood it was their burden to carry.

Now they are just that one game from being the team to accomplish what felt agonizingly just out of reach at times and impossible to achieve more often than not over two decades of losing and frustration.

With a crazy, back-and-forth 10-9 victory over the Rangers in 11 innings Thursday night at T-Mobile Park, the postseason is so close that if MLB had told them to play another game right after the win, they’d have been willing to do it.

The Mariners could clinch a wild-card spot Friday night in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd, with fireworks scheduled postgame. Perhaps Champagne will be added to the menu.

“I have heard it for seven years,” manager Scott Servais said. “Every day when I get up in the morning and I drive to work, that’s what’s on my mind. But the goal is winning a World Series. It’s not just to end the drought.”

But …

“We will end the drought tomorrow,” Servais said. “We’re going to, and it’s a beautiful thing.”


The anticipation for putting an end to something they’ve loathed is palpable.

“I’ve been waiting for four years for this,” shortstop J.P. Crawford said. “I can’t wait. We all know what’s at stake. Tomorrow is gonna be fun.”

The only players on the roster that have waited longer are Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales. Haniger was traded to Seattle before the 2017 season, and Gonzales was acquired at the trade deadline that year.

“I’ve been thinking about this moment,” Gonzales said. “We’re on the cusp, but the job’s not finished.”

Said Haniger: “You can’t win the World Series without getting in the playoffs. I think we’re all pretty excited. We just need to go home and try to get a good night’s sleep, because I know it will probably be tough to fall asleep tonight. I’ve visualized and dreamed about this for a while.”

With the Orioles losing 5-3 to the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon, the Mariners took the field for their season-series finale with the Rangers hours later, knowing their magic number for clinching their first postseason spot since 2001 was two games.


In the positioning race of those three wild-card spots, the Blue Jays (87-69) were off and open three-game series vs. the Red Sox on Friday. The Mariners hold the second wild-card spot, sitting 1.5 games behind Toronto. The Rays (85-71) lost their second consecutive game in Cleveland and open a three-game series vs. the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Servais made it clear that they want to push to the end and take the first wild-card spot, which would give them three home playoff games.

“The goal is to hopefully win out,” Gonzales said. “We went out and put ourselves in a good position to host. These fans deserve some home postseason games, and we want to give that to them.”

Down 9-8 going into the bottom of the 11th, Dylan Moore singled to start the inning and move automatic runner Jarred Kelenic to third base. Pinch-hitter Luis Torrens followed with a single to the right to score Kelenic.

After two failed sac bunt attempts from Crawford, Moore stole third base.

“D-Mo stealing third really won us the game,” Crawford said.

He ended the game moments later with his line drive going off the glove of third baseman Josh Jung, allowing Moore to race home with the winning run.


“Jung is a really good defender, and seeing that ball get through and D-Mo come home I was like, ‘Oh baseball gods, finally, thank you,’ ” Crawford said.

The game featured nine homers — five from Texas and four from Seattle. Haniger belted a pair of two-run homers, and Kelenic hit a two-run homer and a solo homer.

Seattle got a shortened start from Gonzales, who pitched five innings, allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

He struck out the side in the first inning and was aided by a slick inning-ending double play in the second.

But all four of his runs allowed came in a disastrous third inning in which he gave up 1,200 feet of homers to three hitters. It started with a towering leadoff solo homer from Sam Huff (421 feet), a majestic two-run homer off the bat of Marcus Semien (400 feet) and a laser of a solo homer from Adolis Garcia (381 feet) that hit off the manual scoreboard in left field.

There were more than a few grumbles from angst-ridden Mariners fans, who watched a 2-0 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit.


But Haniger helped out. With Ty France on first base, Haniger took advantage of a hanging slider from Gray, sending it into the lower level of Edgar’s Cantina for a tying two-run homer.

Given a respite and a reset, Gonzales came back with a scoreless frame in the fourth.

Kelenic put him in line for the victory in the bottom of the fourth. Using his reworked and simpler swing, he stayed on an elevated fastball away, sending a fly ball over the wall in left field for a two-run homer off Gray.

With the lead again, Gonzales answered with a 1-2-3 inning against the top of the Rangers lineup.

From there, Servais turned it over his bullpen.

But the group of lockdown relievers couldn’t hold the two- and then three-run lead that Kelenic provided them with his solo homer to right field in the sixth inning.

Brought in to face the top of the Rangers order in the seventh inning, Paul Sewald served up back-to-back solo homers to Marcus Semien and Nathaniel Lowe that cut the deficit to 7-6.

Andres Munoz had to finish the frame for his teammate, but he wouldn’t be spared from the struggles. In the eighth, he allowed an infield single to Bubba Thompson and a single to right to Huff. With runners on first and third and no outs, Munoz got Kevin Plawecki to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that allowed Thompson to score and tie the score at 7.  


What would the Mariners making the playoffs mean to you? We want to hear from you!

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