Sometimes baseball is just a game, and sometimes it’s more. On Saturday night, in a brutal 10-inning match that eliminated the Mariners from postseason contention, it felt like more.
Hisashi Iwakuma faltered in his last start of the season, going 3 2/3 innings on nine hits and five runs. Oakland starter Jharel Cotton fared little better, drumming up six hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings while the Mariners tried to keep pace with their division rivals at the plate.
By the seventh inning, the A’s had distanced themselves with a 7-4 lead, punctuated by a 412-foot home run from Khris Davis. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz responded in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single and two-run homer, the first of three attempts to even the score.
In the eighth, Marcus Semien and Ben Gamel tacked on a run each for their respective teams. The bullpens stymied any chance of a ninth inning comeback, thanks in part to Edwin Diaz‘s four-pitch effort in the top of the inning and Norichika Aoki’s bases-loaded force out in the bottom of the frame. That inability to clear the bases would return to haunt the Mariners in the 10th, when they left the tying run on third base for a second time after Joey Wendle hit a go-ahead RBI single off of Diaz.
For the Mariners, the loss marked the end of their bid for a wild card and their 15th season since 2001 without a place in the postseason. During a season that has felt more competitive and electric than those of years past, it was a rough blow for the AL West contenders. Nelson Cruz summed up the sentiment best in his postgame comments, via MLB.com’s Greg Johns and Jane Lee:
Hopefully this prepares us for next year. […] Everybody had a taste of what it’s like to be in a playoff atmosphere because it was like that for like a week. Just a great run. Even myself, I’ve played a lot of games and this was an incredible run.
Elsewhere, the Orioles and Blue Jays tied for the top wild card spot in the American League. With the Tigers just 1.5 games back in the wild card race, a three-way tie is still technically possible. A full assessment of potential tie-breakers can be found here.
Here are the rest of the box scores for Saturday’s games. Keep an eye out for Dexter Fowler‘s 1,000th career hit, Trea Turner‘s 13th home run of the year, and Ivan De Jesus’ forgetful moment at the plate.
Mets 5, Phillies 3
Cardinals 4, Pirates 3
Yankees 7, Orioles 3
Nationals 2, Marlins 1
Reds 7, Cubs 4
Indians 6, Royals 3
Braves 5, Tigers 3
Twins 6, White Sox 0
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3
Rays 4, Rangers 1
Brewers 4, Rockies 3 (10 innings)
Diamondbacks 9, Padres 5
Giants 3, Dodgers 0
Astros 3, Angels 0
Athletics 9, Mariners 8 (10 innings)