Kyle Seager’s diving play down the third-base line saved a wild ninth inning by closer Edwin Diaz as the Mariners held on for a 4-3 victory over Los Angeles.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Mariners get to where they want to in 2016, which is a spot in the postseason, they will look back on the final out of their 4-3 win over the Angels on Wednesday as one of the reasons they got there.
With two outs, the bases loaded and the Mariners clinging to a 4-3 lead, Kyle Seager made perhaps the biggest defensive play of his career to save the Mariners from a disastrous, soul-crushing loss.
On a 3-2 count with the runners moving on the pitch, Andrelton Simmons ripped a hard ground ball down the third-base line that if it gets into the outfield scores the tying and winning runs with ease.
But Seager dove for the ball, gloving it near the line. He scrambled to his feet and fired off-balance to first base where Dae-Ho Lee gloved the one-hopper to get Simmons by a step and end the game.
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“The first step was try to stop it,” Seager said. “Thankfully that happened. Then it was just panic mode, trying to get rid of it as fast as you can and bounce it over there to Dae-Ho and he made a great pick on the other end. It worked out as well as it could for me.”
Getting Seager to extol about one of his plays might be more difficult than hitting one by him in a key situation. He first tried to talk about closer Edwin Diaz when asked about his play. But he did admit that it might be the best defensive play of his career, given the circumstances.
“I can’t think of any too much better,” he said.
His manager wasn’t afraid to laud his performance.
“You can’t say enough about the defensive game Kyle Seager had,” Scott Servais said. “And making that play at the end of the game was just awesome. It was just a phenomenal play. Kyle is as good as it gets, and he gets in those grooves and it’s like his glove has Velcro on it. Not just the play, but to get up to his feet to finish the play.”
It ended a drama-filled bottom of the ninth that saw Diaz almost blow his first save since taking over the closer duties. The hard-throwing rookie instead is now 8 for 8 in save opportunities. But this one was far from simple. Diaz came in to protect a 4-2 lead but gave up back-to-back hits, including an RBI single to Yunel Escobar to trim the lead to 4-3. After striking out Kole Calhoun, he gave up a one-out single to Mike Trout, who advanced to second a throw to third by Leonys Martin. The Mariners intentionally walked Albert Pujols to load the bases.
With no room for mistakes, Diaz struck out Jefry Marte on three pitches, setting up the showdown with Simmons.
Diaz fell behind 3-1 and then fired a slider that Simmons swung through.
“That 3-1 slider made my knees buckle,” Seager said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
Diaz threw several sliders in the game, admitting he lacked fastball command and Angels hitters were trying to jump it.
“I didn’t have much confidence in my fastball,” he said. “I went to my slider. When I threw it with a 3-1 count, I thought, ‘Throw my best slider, we got an out.’ ”
The Mariners (64-55) will go for the series victory Thursday night with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound.
Cody Martin’s first major-league start in almost a year didn’t get off to a good beginning. He gave up a single to Escobar (5 for 5) to start the game, surrendered a double to Calhoun and hit Trout with a pitch to load the bases. Pujols singled to left to score a run and Marte followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score another run. But the not-fleet-of-foot Pujols made an incorrect decision and tried to advance on the throw in, and he was tossed out at second.
Robinson Cano put a stop to the bleeding as only he can. Cano made a brilliant backhanded, lunging stop behind second base on Simmons’ hard grounder up the middle. He then fired off balance to first to get Simmons for the third out of the inning.