SEATTLE — From the deepest depths of despair to probably the most exhilarating euphoria, the Mariners rode an unhinged roller coaster of emotions over an electrifying ninth inning on Sunday, which culminated having an 8-7 walk-off win on the Braves.
It had anguish. It had gloom. But, in accordance with their 21-year-old star rookie, it never really had doubt.
Julio Rodrguez crushed a game-tying homer off Kenley Jansen, then Eugenio Surez followed with a walk-off blast to catapult the Mariners with their most thrilling victory yet, soon after Seattles lights-out bullpen put them in peril by surrendering five runs with two outs in the very best of the ninth.
The Mariners went from cruising to a dominant make an impression on first-place Atlanta all afternoon, to being soberly reminded why the Braves will be the defending World Series champions, to back at the top in another of probably the most topsy-turvy ninth innings observed in MLB this year. Throw in the sold-out crowd of 45,245, and these two teams are on an easy track to the postseason, and Sundays matinee had all of the ingredients of an October instant classic.
Thats a playoff game there, said Marco Gonzales, who spun six brilliant innings. Thats how exactly we have to treat that.
To attain the best of highs, the Mariners had to descend to the cheapest of lows.
Atlanta was right down to its final strike in a complete count with two outs despite reliever Diego Castillo walking his first two batters, but Michael Harris II sent almost all of Seattle into code red with a 433-foot moonshot that may warrant him early consideration for the house Run Derby here next summer.
Mariners manager Scott Servais then considered Paul Sewald, perhaps later than most anticipated, but Sewald — despite numerous crises averted — quit a line-drive single to Eddie Rosario and the would-be dagger, a two-run blast by Robbie Grossman in to the right-field bleachers that pushed the Braves ahead. It had been the very first time since a June 21, 2011, loss to the Nationals where the Mariners bullpen had a four-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning and quit five or even more runs.
Sewald, whos been among the ALs best leverage relievers days gone by 2 yrs, was deflated — however the position players quickly quelled him in the dugout.
“Each and every guy said a similar thing: ‘You’ve saved us 25 times this season. Every occasionally, it’s OK for all of us to save lots of you, Sewald said. So I’m very appreciative to the fact that they hit those two homers in the ninth.”
Even for a club that thrives in late-innings thrillers, if self doubt crept in, it went unseen — specifically for Rodrguez, who regardless of the despair flashed his megawatt smile while running in from center field before his fateful at-bat.
What gave him such conviction that the Mariners would so dramatically pull through?
Because I really believe in this team, Rodrguez said. Personally i think like everybody will come in every day to place the task in. Personally i think like everybody is definitely doing the very best for the team. Personally i think like we compete and we just arrive. Personally i think like we’ve the chance, we’ve the people to compete keenly against anybody, and thats why I was confident that wed have the ability to come through for the reason that last inning, because I understand what weve got with this team.
In a 1-1 count against Jansen, a three-time All-Star with 57 games of playoff experience, Rodrguez saw a hanging slider and didnt miss, connecting for an impressive 117.2 mph shot off the left-field scoreboard — the best exit velocity on a Mariners homer since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
Each time hes on base, we’ve an opportunity to score, Surez said. I swear, I told everybody: If Julio gets on base, weve got an opportunity to win this game. It simply happened. Like I usually say, everything Julio does is special.
Rodrguez may be the Mariners best player, but Surez has been their hottest lately. Both homered twice on Sunday, and Surez has hit four in his past four games and 10 in his past 22, none larger than the walk-off, just the next of his career, both this year.
Also in a 1-1 count, Surez pummeled a low-and-in fastball in to the home bullpen and sent T-Mobile Park right into a seismic shake, putting a bow on arguably the largest win of the growing season — up to now.
I understand what I could do, said Surez, who lived around his mantra of Good Vibes Only. I trust myself and I simply come here to take pleasure from the overall game. It doesnt matter the problem. Ive been with us a bit, and Ive learned that from guys like Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto. Keep calm, and thats what I make an effort to do each day.
The victory pushed the Mariners playoff odds around 99.8%, per FanGraphs, plus they pulled right into a tie with Tampa Bay for the top AL Wild Card spot, only a half-game before Toronto for the 3rd and final spot. Six games, and also a tiebreaker, separate Seattle from Baltimore, the initial team externally looking in.
You can find 22 games remaining and the drought is nearing a finish, barring an epic collapse. But precisely how likely is really a spiral at this time, especially following a gut-check victory on the defending champs that screamed, We belong.
These Mariners are showing that theyre a playoff-caliber team, and Sunday was the very best example why.