Things were looking bleak for the Mariners as they went into the bottom of the 6th inning in the opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. They were down 5-2 against one of the best teams in baseball. The Rays have a great bullpen, and one of the best closers this season. Rich Hill started the game for them, and even at 41, was carrying a stellar ERA of 3.38 into this game.
Through the first five innings, he had held the Mariners to just two runs. It was in line with what he had done all year. Fortunately for M’s fans, this isn’t the same offense from one month ago. Mitch Haniger would start the inning off with a single, and Ty France would follow that up with a two-run bomb to bring the Mariners within one.
That is how the game would sit until the ninth inning. Although the Mariners had a couple of chances, they were unable to capitalize in either the 7th or 8th inning.
The Mariners had a weapon in their pocket, one that goes by the name of Kyle Seager.
Very few Mariners fans had a good feeling heading into the ninth inning. Not because of a lack of faith in our offense, but because of the man standing on the mound for the Rays. Through 17.1 innings, he had given up just two runs, and none since May 19th. In order for the Mariners to win, they would need to score as many runs in one outing as he had given up all year.
Things got off to a fantastic start. Dylan Moore drew a walk, and Jake Bauers followed that up with a single, moving Moore to second. The team looked to play a bit of small ball by trying to bunt and move the runners along. Luis Torrens had already doubled and hit a home run in the game, but they wanted a bunt nonetheless. He failed, popping it up for the first out of the inning.
Normally, this is where the M’s would falter, hitting into a game-ending double play, or something similar. Especially with someone like Fairbanks on the mound. Instead, Shed Long Jr. ripped a double, scoring Moore and moving France to third.
Runners on second and third, tie game, one out. Coming to the plate is Taylor Trammell… wait. No, it’s not. Originally scheduled to have the night off due to the craft lefty on the hill, Kyle Seager had been sitting for the past 3+ hours. In he came, needing to send a fly ball to medium depth in the outfield, or scoot one through the infield to win the game.
He took the first pitch, a four-seamer, for a strike. Down 0-1 against one of the best closers in baseball is a situation few would want to be in. Luck was not on Fairbanks side this time. Another four-seamer and Seager would rip it through a gap on the right side of the infield.
The walk-off single gave the Mariners a 6-5 win, pulling them to within a game of .500, where they now sit at 35-36. It was a marvelous ending, and one that you can watch over and over with excitement each time. Game two of four is scheduled for 7:10 PM, with Yusei Kikuchi going up against Michael Wacha.