In a situation where they basically need to win every game to give themselves a chance at the postseason, the Mariners picked up a must-win with relative ease Friday night at Safeco Field.
All they can do is win and wait.
So far the Mariners have taken care of the winning aspect the past two days at Safeco Field. It’s the waiting on the results of other teams in the American League wild-card chase that seems to be a little irritating and difficult.
In a situation where they basically need to prevail in all four games of the final series of the season with Oakland to give themselves a chance at the postseason or a play-in game, the Mariners have accomplished what was needed thus far.
Oakland @ Mariners, 6:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Using four home runs — two from Robinson Cano — and a solid, but pitch-filled outing from starter Taijuan Walker, Seattle rolled to a relatively drama-free 5-1 victory over the A’s.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Quentin Moore, the top 2021 JUCO tight end, verbally commits to UW Huskies
- Russell Wilson may want Seahawks to sign Antonio Brown, but a lot would have to happen first
- Analysis: With the roster just about complete, have the Seahawks made themselves better?
- Could Seahawks sign Antonio Brown? It's unlikely and maybe unadvised but not impossible
- Will coronavirus concerns wipe out high-school football this fall? WIAA says it's too soon to tell
“We’re still breathing,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “At about 6:30 tonight, watching all these games before we take the field, we needed somebody to give us a little help. But more importantly, we took care of business.”
Seattle improved to 86-74 with two games left. In the wild-card race, the Mariners got some help with the Red Sox rallying to defeat the Blue Jays (87-73). But both the Orioles (88-72) and Tigers (86-73) won, so the Mariners sit one game behind the Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot and a half-game behind the Tigers, who still have three games left in the regular season.
Asked if the Mariners can make it happen, Cano smiled, put his hands together and looked skyward for a few moments.
“I hope,” Cano said. “You have to wait for someone else to lose.”
The Mariners also can’t lose, but they were never really in danger of that.
About 20 minutes after receiving the award as the Mariners’ most valuable player this season, Cano continued to exhibit why he earned that honor. With Norichika Aoki on first base, Cano crushed a 1-1 fastball from Oakland starter Raul Alcantara for his 37th homer and a 2-0 lead.
“I didn’t know it was going to go out,” Cano said. “It was a line drive and you know how it is here. But it ended up over the fence.”
For a team that is in must-win mode, early runs are helpful, particularly after the big three of Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager did little in the victory Thursday.
“Early in the game, the energy in the dugout was outstanding,” Servais said. “And Robbie’s home run was huge to get us going on the right foot.”
Seattle added to the lead via the long ball from the least expected person. With two outs in the second inning, Aoki, not known for his power, hammered a 0-1 fastball from Alcantara.
“He got a fastball in and he timed it up right,” Servais said. “He’s really been awesome for us at the top of the lineup.”
Asked where he got the power, Aoki just smiled and pointed at his diminutive 170 pounds.
“Where could it be from? I don’t know,” he said through interpreter Kosuke Inaji. “I still can’t believe it.”
With two hits on the night, Aoki is hitting .369 (24 for 65) with six doubles, three homers and 11 RBI in his past 19 games.
“I felt good all the second half of the season and I feel it’s just continuing this month,” he said.
Two more solo homers closed out the Mariners’ scoring.
Cano hit his second homer of the night to lead off the third inning. It gave him 38 homers on the season and it was 100th RBI.
“The second one, I knew I got it, but I didn’t think it was going to go out,” he said.
Cruz added to his homer total, slamming a ball over the wall in center.
The ball actually bounced off something behind the wall and went back onto the field, causing Cruz to pause at second. But umpires awarded him a homer and later confirmed it via replay to make it 5-0. It was Cruz’s team-leading 42nd homer of the season.
Despite some command issues that led to a season-high five walks, Walker was able to use the ample run support and get through six complete innings, allowing just one run on two hits with three strikeouts.
“It was not easy,” Servais said. “His tempo was a little slower tonight, a lot of long at-bats. But give him credit, he hung in there.”
Walker wasn’t sure what to make of his outing.
“It was just one of those weird starts where one hitter, everything was locked in, and then the next hitter, everything was all over the place,” he said. “I just kept fighting.”
As do the Mariners.
|AL wild-card race|
|Top two teams face off in the postseason:|
|The final four|
|Remaining schedules for the contenders for the AL wild-card berths:|
|Baltimore||88-72||at N.Y. Yankees (83-77)||at N.Y. Yankees (83-77)||–|
|Toronto||87-73||at Boston (93-67)||at Boston (93-67)||–|
|Detroit||86-73||at Atlanta (66-93)||at Atlanta (66-93)||vs. Cleveland (92-67) if nec.|
|Seattle||86-74||vs. Oakland (67-93)||vs. Oakland (67-93)||–|