Mitch Hanniger’s five RBI’s, including a go ahead two-run single in the bottom of the eighth, performance on Saturday night is what will be talked about for years (whether or not the club makes it). It’s the kind of performance in which he put his club on his back and kept the hope of putting an end to a 20-year post season drought alive.
Steve Cishek turned into the Cishek M’s fans will remember as he beaned Jared Kelenic, walked Jake Bauers, watched an absolutely beautiful bunt by Jake Fraley, then followed that up with an intentional walk to Crawford. All of that was before an insanely close play at the plate on a slow grounder to third. Then Haniger put together an absolutely chad of an at bat to work a 3-2 count before he did this.
Future Mariner’s Hall of Fame member Kyle Seager, in what is probably one of his last regular season at bats as an Mariner, followed that up with this to add a crucial insurance run.
For Seager, this is the fourth time he’s got a shot at making the playoffs in the final series as a Mariner — for Haniger this is his third. And for both of them to do that to keep that hope alive heading into game 162 is absolutely insane. Those two are the veteran presence on this roster, these are the guys who have been through the heart break just like the fans…they were in the same club house as Felix. They get it, and when their club needed them to setup they did and they delivered in spades.
Drew Steckenrider was his usual dominant self in the ninth to seal the door, despite giving up a double on ball that got past a diving Fraley. In the end, it didn’t matter as the next batter lined out straight to Abraham Toro at second.
A go-ahead, three run dinger wasn’t enough to put the M’s away as the Angels were unable to add on. Paul Seawald buckled down and got the outs he needed in the top of the eighth and his offense immediately stepped in to fix his one mistake on the night. Seawald is the fourth M’s reliever in franchise history to record 100+ strikeouts in a season, he’s been absolutely clutch all year (his dinger problem in September is slightly concerning…but they’ve primarily been of the solo variety). It was the offense’s turn to help him out, they did and the M’s live another day.
After that absolute gut punch of a game on Friday night, the offense showed back up when it was needed most. It’s two veterans, who have never quiet gotten over the hump in Seattle, came through and the M’s are still alive heading into the final day of the season. Since every single game has its first pitch scheduled for noon (pacific) on Sunday, we won’t know about whether or no there will be a game 163 until late in the game, or even after the game in Seattle has ended — a stark difference from 2014.
A Boston or New York loss on Sunday sends us to a game 163 on the road. It’s going to be an absolutely tense day of scoreboard watching at T-Mobile…and I’ll be there for it.
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Photo Credit: Seattle Mariners