It’s OK. You can breathe now. The Mariners pulled a couple rabbits out of their caps this afternoon to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in twelve innings. The exhilarating walk-off sac-fly from Robinson Cano comes after an unfortunate set of losses against their Wild Card rivals. The win keeps the M’s on life support in the playoff race for at least one more day.
It’s official. Playoff baseball has come early. Or at least, that’s what it felt like during one of the wildest, high-intensity games of the year. With so much on the line for the Mariners, this series finale held incredible importance.
Thankfully, after losing the first two games, the Mariners edged out the Blue Jays in the four and a half-hour thriller.
Whether it was the blown save by Edwin Diaz or the fantastic defense that kept the Mariners in the game over and over again, we saw a bit of everything.
With so many moments and key plays/players to highlight, it’s hard to find only three things we learned, but, let’s try. Here are three things we learned in the crucial, potential season-saving, 2-1 win.
Everyone Had A Gold Glove Today
It’s one thing to expect your defense not to commit an error in a game. When the game goes to extra innings- especially following a long battle the night before a day game- errors are even expected. But, not for today’s Mariners squad.
Despite playing seven and a half hours of baseball within the last twenty four hours, the defense looked better than ever. Not only did the team commit zero errors, they also showed off their glove skills a multitude of times.
It was fitting that on the very first batter of the game, Ketel Marte made a sensational play. Marte tracked down a hard hit grounder, slide on his knees to make a back-handed grab, got up and threw a laser to Adam Lind who scooped the ball up on a hop with grace for the first out.
It was the type of play that pumped up Felix Hernandez. At the same time, it must have inspired the rest of the defense as well. In the fifth, the Mariners latest enemy, Kevin Pillar, tried to tie the
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game. He scorched a ball that would have hit the base of the warning track, probably scoring the runner from first. Or at least, continue the inning.
Thanks to Seth Smith, it did none of those things. Even as the sun was blinding him, Smith tracked the ball the entire way. He eventually reached over his head, on the run to make the spectacular grab to end the inning. The Mariners would need more stellar defense to stay in this game though, and, in the eighth, they got some.
With a runner on first in the top half of the eighth, Mike Zunino used his 2nd Amendment rights to show off his guns. He fired a rocket to second base, accurately sniping his target, averting the late threat.
Finally, in the tenth, when it seemed the Mariners were headed towards another giveaway loss, Mike Freeman became Superman. With a runner at third and just one out, Pillar smacked a ball in the hole, or so he thought. Out of nowhere, Freeman flew full-extension over the dirt to save the game.
There was too much excellence in the field all day long, but these were the key moments without a doubt that helped the Mariners to victory.
Give Us Some Sucre
Jesus Sucre has been the odd man out when it comes to catchers this season. He has had to wait behind Chris Iannetta and Mike Zunino most of the year. With Zunino resting as a substitute (until late in the game) and Iannetta’s embarrassing night yesterday, Sucre got his chance.
Not only did he step up behind the plate, helping Felix Hernandez pitch one of his best games all year, he excelled in front of it too.
His 3-3 day helped the Mariners win today’s contested battle. He scored the go-ahead run in the third after he hit his first double of the year. Over three games in September, Sucre is red hot. He is hitting .636 with three RBI and two runs scored. The later being one of the most important of his career.
It is yet to be determined how much, if any, we will see of Sucre. But, this month, and today in particular, helps his case to be part of the Mariners future.
Sucre was one of the stars of today’s ballgame, but so too was his countryman. The King, put on a wonderful outing today with the help from his catcher. Together they wove through most of the Blue Jays with ease. Felix would give up two hits. That’s the fewest he’s allowed since Opening Day.
However, these two have not also been this on point. In sixteen career games working as a duo, they have an ERA of 3.45. While that is the lowest ERA for a catcher-King combination in his royal
career, the King and his Venezuelan partner have been exceptional in September.
Over the last two starts they worked together (both this month), they are yet to allow a run. Over the last thirteen innings pitched, they have managed to give up eight hits and four walks together.
It’s pretty clear that their national connection is helping them to fire on all cylinders. Hopefully- pending on if Sucre gets the chance- we see a lot more of the same from these two in the coming years.
I’m not calling out Edwin Encarnacion, but, how can one player hit two pitchers within twenty-four hours of each other?
Last Night, the Blue Jay tried to take off Hisashi Iwakuma’s arm with a blazing line drive. Luckily Iwaukma wasn’t seriously hurt, but you could tell he was experiencing some discomfort.
Today, Encarnacion was at it again. This time going after The King, in his own palace no less. Now, that’s just rude.
In the top of the fourth, the Blue Jay smacked a ball right at Hernandez’s feet, causing The King to grimace. Hernandez did make the out, but needed a couple moments with the training staff to regain his footing after the play.
The odds of this happening twice are so slim. Of course, this was not done maliciously. But, C’mon Encarnacion. The playoff race is tough enough, we don’t need to go through it injured as well.