Seattle Mariners Win With More Extra Inning Magic


Remember a couple years ago when the Baltimore Orioles were amazing in extra innings and one run games? It was a fluke, of course, but it was a beautiful fluke that just got more and more entertaining as the season went on. It was a joke. It became almost predictable: the O’s would go to extras, and they’d win, always with flair. Nobody understood how, but everybody loved it.

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The 2015 Seattle Mariners aren’t those Orioles, if only because they haven’t had the chance to be yet. They’re off to a nice start, though, with back-to-back dramatic victories over the Oakland Athletics to claim their first series win of the year. Both games went to extras. Both games were totally insane.

Felix Hernandez took the hill for the M’s and wasn’t sharp, surrendering three earned runs in five innings before leaving early with quad tightness. He walked two to only one strikeout, but feel free to write this one off. He tweaked his ankle early on playing defense, and didn’t have his best stuff. These things happen, and it was nice to see the M’s bail him out a little.

They almost didn’t, though, as A’s starter Jesse Hahn recorded fifteen outs before allowing his first hit. That hit was a double by Dustin Ackley, followed by a Mike Zunino single. Brad Miller‘s sac fly scored Ack, and after an Austin Jackson walk and a Seth Smith groundout the M’s were able to get another two runs when Josh Reddick couldn’t hold onto a deep fly from Robinson Cano.

We got a good look at the intimidation factor of the new heart of the M’s order after the Reddick error, as Bob Melvin opted not to get Eric O’Flaherty out of the bullpen. Hahn walked Nelson Cruz and allowed an RBI single to Kyle Seager before being pulled from the game. Maybe Melvin was just overtrusting of his starter’s no-hit stuff. Either way, it worked out great… for the Mariners.

Lloyd McClendon scored another tactical win by pinch-hitting Rickie Weeks for Seth Smith in the seventh, as Weeks blasted a three-run homer that gave the M’s a 7-3 lead. It was going to be smooth sailing the rest of the way. Not even a save situation, so no Fernando Rodney, right?

Wrong! With so much of the bullpen taxed from the last few days, McClendon sent Rodney in to pitch the ninth. We all know Rodney’s got a flair for the dramatic, but it absolutely got away from him today – he walked two and allowed four hits as Oakland scored four runs and tied the game. Reminder: Fernando Rodney is not the M’s best reliever. He’s also the leading cause of heart attacks in the greater Seattle area.

With things tied up again, the M’s won it in extras, again. For the second day in a row, Cruz provided a critical home run. But this one wasn’t the no-doubter that yesterday’s blast was – Ben Zobrist chased it all the way to the wall before it became clear that the ball would leave the yard. Mariners 8, A’s 7 – Yoervis Medina even got the save! And Rodney got the W. When the closer gets the win and someone else gets the save you know exactly how the ninth and tenth went.

Seattle is now 3-3. That’s better than Cleveland, Oakland, Los Angeles of Anaheim, Washington, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. Their slow start is now a thing of the past and the current focus is on their inability to lose these last couple days. Oh, how they tried to lose, but they just couldn’t. The will to win and the will to lose can coexist, apparently, and the will to win is winning out.

On to Los Angeles. Yes, real Los Angeles, not Anaheim, as the M’s are going to be hitting their pitcher ninth for the next three days. Do you like watching Cruz play the field? No, of course you don’t, but for the next few days you get to! He’s been seeing plenty of time on defense, of course, so at least we won’t have to radically adjust our expectations for the outfield defense.

3-3, with a series win over a good A’s team. Not bad! This team’s not bad. They can even hit a little.