The help they needed came before Tyler Anderson pulled his first pitch Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park.
And knowing what a win would mean for their playoff hopes hasn’t overwhelmed the Mariners with pressure or nerves. It didn’t provide them with a rush of adrenaline or focus as they stepped onto the pitch realizing that an opportunity had been presented to them.
Why do something different?
They reached that unexpected position, a place that few thought they would ever be this late in the season, preparing and playing alike. This is how they win. That’s why they win. That made the playoffs a real possibility with four games to go in the season.
Using a courageous outing from Anderson on a short rest, getting their typical stingy job from their oft-used reliever box and finding just enough support for a lead, the Mariners rewarded the assembled 12,635 rude fans in attendance a reason to celebrate with a 4-2 win over the Oakland A’s.
It was Seattle’s 11th consecutive game against Oakland this season – a new club record.
With fans standing and screaming for nearly every one of his pitches, Drew Steckenrider worked around a debut single for a scoreless ninth and his 12th.e save.
And as fans walked out of the stadium, chants of “Let’s go Mariners! Sounded in the hall.
“First of all, to the people who were in the stadium tonight, to our fans who were there: thank you,” manager Scott Servais said in opening his post-match media session. “Amazing. I know it wasn’t 40,000 but it was definitely like that and we appreciate it. This team has been playing their cock all year and it means a lot to these guys. So thank you and I hope you will still be here tomorrow night because we need you.
And this help?
The Red Sox, who started the day holding second on the wild card and with Chris Sale starting out, kind of lost to the lowly Orioles, 4-2, at Camden Yards. Meanwhile, at Rogers Center in Toronto, Giancarlo Stanton scored for a fourth straight game to lead the Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays.
With a 90-67 record, New York has a two-game lead over Boston (88-69) for first place in the wild card. The Red Sox, who have lost four games in a row, now hold a slim lead in mid-game over Seattle (88-70) for second place in the wild card. Toronto (87-70) lost half a game to the Mariners.
And the A’s? Well, now they can start scouring the Las Vegas real estate market for future properties and homes as part of the team’s planned move to Oakland in the years to come.
There were scattered cheers before the game as fans watching the internal TV streams saw the Red Sox game end. But a loud cheer rose in the first set when the score was posted on the video board.
“The energy they brought from the start,” Servais said. “We could feel it in the stadium. We knew when the game started that Boston had lost and we had a chance to win a game tonight. And they were there with us every step of the way. It’s very appreciated.
In a daring performance, Anderson gave Seattle everything they could expect from the pitcher starting with just two days off. After allowing nine runs on nine hits in just two innings in Saturday’s loss to the Angels, Anderson adopted the plan to bring him back and start with a reduced number of shots, which would normally be his pitching day. ‘enclosure between departures.
“I was really excited about the opportunity because obviously the last one didn’t go the way I wanted,” he said. “I felt like I let the guys down. And so instead of having to wait six days, I had the chance to go back earlier.
When ultra-dangerous Matt Olson showed up at the shortstop to end the first inning, Anderson had worked a 1-2-3 frame on just eight total shots.
“I was doing back flips,” Servais said with a laugh. “Really, I didn’t know what to expect. I was really excited to see how snappy he was right out of the fall. I knew then that we had a chance to get three. And then we ended up with four innings of him and it was awesome.
He would give Seattle four full innings, allowing just one run on two walks without a hitting and two strikeouts. Of his 46 throws, 40 were catches.
The only run awarded came in the fourth inning when Chad Pinder took advantage of a misplaced change to the zone, throwing a solo homerun to cross on a 0-2 count.
Ahead of the game, Servais made it clear how much he wants the organization to bring back Anderson, who is a free agent after this season, with some sort of multi-year contract. After this outing, Servatius could camp outside John Stanton’s gate until that happened.
“I believe he wants to come back,” Servais said. “I know we want him to come back. But at the end of the day, it’s a business and he’s going to do what’s best for him. But, we love it. The fact that he got up and accepted the assignment after we talked about it yesterday says it all. It’s one thing to do to say, “OK, yeah, I’ll do it.” It’s another thing to go and play like he did. And I think the world of the effort he gave us tonight, you can’t ask for more than 40 shots in 46 shots. Remarkable.”
The Mariners answered A’s in the bottom half of the fourth. Jarred Kelenic worked just one out on Oakland starter Chris Bassitt, who was only on his second start since taking a header and had limited number of shots. A manager Bob Melvin went to veteran right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.
He yielded a single to Luis Torrens, then left a fastball in the middle that Jake Fraley shot into the right corner of the pitch for a two-run brace.
Seattle had a very important insurance point in the sixth inning. Abraham Toro started off with a single in the infield and was finally able to score when Matt Olson was unable to dig a shot into the dirt from shortstop Josh Harrison on Murphy’s single in the infield.
Oakland reduced the lead by one point in the seventh when Diego Castillo had an adventurous outing, failing to bring an easy ground ball to the mound for a mistake, hitting Sean Murphy with a pitch and giving up a single RBI to Tony Kemp. Servais wasted no time. It immediately went to right-hander Paul Sewald, who got the round final.
The Mariners immediately recovered that race when Mitch Haniger, who blew up two home runs on Monday, smashed the 100e homer of his career at the end of the round. Haniger jumped on a fastball from Jake Diekman’s opening pitch to give Seattle a two-point lead.