The Seattle Mariners are back in the playoffs. Here are 10 moments that tell the story of the season.

Julio Rodriguez announces his presence with authority

The Mariners’ top prospect made it clear that he was there to compete for a roster spot when he showed up stronger, trimmer, faster and focused. But it was his mammoth homer in his first spring training at-bat that put people on notice. 

“Rodriguez took a couple steps down the line before flipping the bat — a gesture befitting a 431-foot homer with a 117-mph exit velocity. Those are elite numbers, and Rodriguez has been announcing with increasing volume that he can be an elite talent. And sooner than later,” Larry Stone wrote March 18.

Bottoming out in mid-June

With a lackluster 4-0 loss to the Angels on June 19, the Mariners had been shut out on consecutive days and dropped four of five in the home series. At that point, they had one of the worst records in the American League.

“The Mariners are now 29-39 on the season and going nowhere slowly. They’ve stopped saying it’s early. But is it too late?” Ryan Divish wrote June 19.

The base-brawl in Anaheim

After Mike Trout took exception to chin-level fastballs from Erik Swanson the night before, Angels interim manager Phil Nevin decided to start right-hander Andrew Wantz on June 26 as an opener and a patsy. Wantz’s job was to exercise some baseball justice. He threw a pitch behind Rodriguez and then hit Jesse Winker in the back. After words were exchanged between Winker and the Angels dugout, a nasty brawl ensued with plenty of punches thrown and suspensions to follow.

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“It was pretty clear what was going on,” manager Scott Servais said. “They switched to an opener, who threw some balls at us. And it got out of hand from there. I have often said that people show you who they are, and believe them. I will leave it at that.”

‘Get out the rye bread and mustard, it’s grand salami time’

In a moment that would’ve made the late Dave Niehaus joyfully scream that signature call, Rodriguez unloaded on a 3-2 fastball from Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc on July 15, sending a towering blast over the center-field fall at Globe Life Field for his first career grand slam.

“I don’t know what else you can say about a 21-year-old,” Servais said. “He’s a joy to watch. He really is. It’s how he plays the game and the intensity he plays with and the competitiveness. It’s been awesome to watch.”

The season-changing win streak

It started with a 2-1 victory over the A’s on July 2 at T-Mobile Park on Abraham Toro’s walkoff single and continued through suspensions from the brawl, injuries and into the All-Star break, ending in the first game out of the break. The Mariners’ 14 consecutive wins changed the trajectory of their season.

“This is what baseball is supposed to be,” Servais said. “The stretch we’re in, I don’t think anyone will ever forget it. What a way to end the first half.”

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An introduction to the rest of the baseball world

Though he finished runner-up to Juan Soto in the 2022 Home Run Derby, Rodriguez was still the winner on the evening. He stole the show by hitting 81 homers while displaying his mixture of charisma, charm and talent on a national stage.

“Just being able to perform on this day, it was pretty fun,” Rodriguez said.

Mariners add another ace in La Piedra

Two days before the MLB trade deadline, the Mariners pulled off a trade for Luis Castillo, the top starting pitcher available, sending four minor leaguers, including top prospect Noelvi Marte, to the Cincinnati Reds.

“He’s elite,” Winker said. “I think that’s the easiest way to describe him. And he’s only getting better.”

‘One of the best games I’ve ever seen’

On Aug. 9, a packed T-Mobile Park was treated to a postseason-level performance from the Mariners and Yankees that featured 12 innings of scoreless baseball. In the bottom of the 13th, Luis Torrens, who would lose his spot on the roster two days later, delivered a walkoff single to right field to score Eugenio Suarez. Castillo pitched eight scoreless innings and four relievers combined to toss four more scoreless frames for the shutout. 

“Baseball’s not a boring game,” Servais said. “I’ve been at a lot of major-league games. I’ve been in a lot of major-league games. And that was one of the best games I’ve ever seen.”

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From a gut-punch loss to unbelievable walkoff win

With a 6-2 lead going into the ninth inning vs. the defending World Series champion Braves, the Mariners lockdown bullpen wavered with two outs. Diego Castillo served up a three-run homer and Paul Sewald gave up a two-run homer. The worst loss of the year loomed Sept. 11. But Rodriguez tied the game with a one-out solo homer and Suarez won the game with a walkoff solo homer with two outs.

“It just speaks to the magic we’ve got going on here,” pitcher Marco Gonzales said. 

The clinch

With their magic number at 1 on the last day of September, a sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Park explodes in chaotic celebration when Cal Raleigh crushes a two-out, 3-2 slider from A’s reliever Domingo Acevado off the Hit-it-Here Café in the bottom of the ninth inning for walkoff solo homer and clinching the Mariners’ first postseason berth since 2001

“It’s better than maybe what you can even dream it could be,” Servais said.

Honorable mentions

— The Mariners end any speculation about Rodriguez’s future with the organization, signing him to a unique contract extension that will extend through 2029 at $120 million and possibly through 2039 at $470 million.

— After trading for Castillo at the deadline, the Mariners made him their ace for the next five years with a $108 million contract extension.

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— Mariners sweep the Blue Jays in four games in July at T-Mobile Park, including Suarez’s first career walkoff homer. Toronto manage Charlie Montoyo was fired two days later.

— After Astros reliever Hector Neris hit Ty France with a pitch and benches cleared June 6 at Minute Maid Park, Rodriguez immediately smashed a homer off Neris in a 7-4 win.

— With spring training starting a week late due to the lockout, the Mariners acquired Suarez and Winker from the Reds on the first day of workouts.