After defeating the Blue Jays 7-5 Thursday afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto, a win that snapped a near-season-killing five-game losing streak, the Mariners remain alive for an American League wild card spot. To reach the postseason, the Mariners need to sweep the West Division champion Angels this weekend and get help from the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals.
Seattle (84-75) gained a game on Oakland (86-73), a 2-1 loser Thursday to Texas, which won for the 12th time in its past 13. Kansas City beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3 to clinch at least a tie for the second wild card. The Royals, whose 28-year playoff drought is the longest in baseball, could officially wrap up a spot in the postseason with another victory during the four-game series, or a Mariners defeat.
The Mariners are still twitching due to Logan Morrison’s two home runs, his 10th and 11th, a bomb from Mike Zunino, his 22nd, and the work of nine relievers, starting with Tom Wilhelmsen, who led a bullpen parade in the absence of a true starting pitcher.
Wilhelmsen permitted two runs in the second and Joe Beimel two more in the fifth. But Lucas Luetge, Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, Danny Farquhar, Charlie Furbush and Carson Smith combined to allow two hits in 5.2 innings before Fernando Rodney came on in the ninth for his AL-best 47th save — but not before yielding a massive, first-pitch home run to Kevin Pillar.
“It was a big win for us,” said Morrison, “but right now we can’t think about that. We can only think about what’s in front of us and continue to have good at-bats and make plays on defense.”
“We’re still fighting,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “(Logan) Morrison came up real big for us when we needed it the most. Our bullpen came up big. It’s a good feeling. A lot of teams wish they were in our position, as dire as it may look. We’re still in it and we’ll play hard and see what happens.”
Except for issuing a walk, Wilhelmsen breezed through the first before running into trouble in the second when he yielded a run-scoring single to Anthony Gose and Ryan Goins’ fielder’s choice that plated Pillar.
Blanked through three, the Mariners roared to life in the fourth when Kyle Seager’s single scored Chris Taylor, who had bunted his way aboard, and Morrison crushed a three-run homer off Todd Redmond, for a 4-2 lead.
“It came down to, see it and swing hard,” said Morrison. “And it got out.”
The Mariners had a shot to bust it open with two outs in the fifth after Brad Miller doubled, Robinson Cano walked and pitcher Aaron Loupe, having just entered the game, plunked Kendrys Morales. But Seager grounded out.
The Blue Jays tied it in the fifth on Edwin Encarnacion’s sacrifice fly off Medina that scored Dalton Pompey, and Adam Lind’s RBI single that plated Munenori Kawasaki.
But Morrison bashed his second homer over the right-field wall in the sixth and Mike Zunino followed with his 22nd as the Mariners regained their two-run advantage, 6-4. The Mariners extended that to 7-4 with another RBI single from Seager, his 96th of the season.
McClendon used nine pitchers, two shy of the club’s single game record of 11 on Sept. 25, 1992 at Texas . . . The Mariners produced 10 hits and went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position . . . Morrison’s two-homer game was the second of his career . . . Wilhelmsen made his second start of the season. In a similar circumstance, with McClendon trying to align his rotation, Wilhelmsen lost to Minnesota July 2 . . . LHP James Paxton (6-4, 3.03) will throw for the Mariners Saturday against RHP Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.38), and Felix Hernandez (14-6, 2.34) is scheduled to throw the regular-season finale Sunday, opposite LHP C.J. Wilson (13-10, 4.61). The Hernandez start probably depends on where the Mariners are in the wild card race . . . McClendon said he expects that both Taijuan Walker and Paxton will pitch in the Arizona Fall League or in winter ball in South America.
The Mariners flew cross country Thursday night for the final regular season series against the Angels, who last week split four games with Seattle in Anaheim. LA has been champion for a week and have the option of resting some players for the playoffs. They had Thursday off in Seattle after taking two of three from the A’s. They are three games ahead of Baltimore for the league’s best record.
Hisashi Iwakuma (14-9, 3.54) will face RHP Jered Weaver (18-8, 3.52). First pitch is 7:10 p.m.