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September 27, 2014 at 11:28 PM

Mariners 2, Angels 1 (11 innings) — So you’re saying there’s a chance

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You could say they were due.

The Mariners had not celebrated a back-slapping, water-drenching walk-off win since April 23 when Kyle Seager belted a game-ending, three-run homer against the Houston Astros to end a miserable eight-game losing streak.

And 140 games later, they got their second of the season giving their postseason dreams still have a heartbeat.

Austin Jackson beat out an attempted double play in the bottom of the 11th inning, allowing Brad Miller to score from third base and give the Mariners’ a 2-1 lead. With the A’s losing in Texas, victory was as must.

The Mariners (86-75) got it. You could also say they’re a little due for a postseason appearance as well after 13 seasons.

And they have a chance at it.

“We are still standing in the ring and we are still throwing punches,” said manager Lloyd McClendon with exhaustion in his voice. “We are playing a meaningful game in game 162 and I think that speaks volumes of this organization and the direction in which we are heading.”

Game 162 will be played at Safeco Field on Sunday in the hopes of forcing a Game 163.

Basically, it goes like this. The Mariners need to win on Sunday and the A’s need to lose in Texas. That’s the only combination that will get them into a play-in game with the A’s on Monday, which Seattle would host.

The Mariners will have the one person they wanted on the mound in a must-win situation – Felix Hernandez.

“That’s what we planned,” McClendon said.

Amidst the smiles and laughter of his teammates, Hernandez’s was stone-faced and serious like, well, a boxer entering the ring.

“You ready?” he was asked as he walked past.

“Hell yeah,” he replied without breaking stride.

Hernandez will have that chance thanks to the best bullpen in baseball giving the not-best offense in baseball enough time to eke out a run after squandering opportunity after opportunity.

Even as they rallied in the bottom of the 11th, there was eerie feeling that they might suffer the same fate as innings past – runners left on base in scoring position.

Brad Miller delivered a one-out double down the right field line off of Mike Morin to start the rally. Chris Taylor blooped a single to center field. It was hit just hard enough that Miller couldn’t risk taking off until the ball dropped in front of center field Tony Campana, who bobbled it a little.

“It kind of hung up there and I know Campana can really run,” Miller said. “I told Taylor if he would have got a little more jammed we could have scored there.”

With runners on the corners and the Angels bringing five infielders on the infield, Jackson just had to find some outfield grass of side-armer Vinnie Pestano.

He didn’t, but it still worked.

Grant Greed fielded his ground ball and hesitated just enough before firing to second, which allowed Jackson to beat out the throw from shortstop John McDonald by a step.

Getty Images

Getty Images

“I almost dove for it and I don’t think I’ve ever dove for first base before,” Jackson said. “You can’t explain how good it felt. It didn’t really set in even when he said, ‘safe.'”

Jackson is one of the Mariners’ fastest runners, but it sure didn’t feel like that for McClendon has he watched the play unfold.

“It felt like that play took about an hour and a half,” McClendon said. “I think my heart stopped maybe two or three times.”

For the trio of Miller, Taylor and Jackson it was a bit of redemption after failing to end it in regulation.

The Mariners were poised to pick up their second walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth inning. A crowd of 32,716 was standing on their feet waiting. With no outs and bases loaded, all they needed was a fly ball, a ground ball with eyes through the infield, a bleeder, a bloop or anything to that would put the base runners in motion.

But those three runners were stranded in their spots.

Angels reliever Jason Grilli struck out Miller looking, struck out Taylor swinging and then after falling behind 3-0 to Austin Jackson, he came back – with the help of home plate umpire Bill Miller, to get Jackson to fly out to right to end the inning.

It was a gift-wrapped win that went unopened. Instead, it was on to extra innings to test the pulse and patience of everyone watching.

Just about the time the Rangers were putting the finishing touches on a 5-4 win over the A’s to keep the Mariners’ hopes alive, Seattle was finally breaking through against C.J. Wilson to rally from a 1-0 deficit.

The Angels starter had vexed the Mariners for six innings, allowing just two hits. But Kyle Seager was able to work a walk in the top of the seventh to start the inning. Logan Morrison, who has been one of the team’s best hitters the last month of the season, delivered again, lacing a double into the gap in right-center.

Seager got a good read on the ball as it left Morrison’s bat and  was sprinting on the no-doubt gap shot. He didn’t stop running and third base coach Rich Donnelly didn’t stop waving him home. Seager slid across the plate to tie the game at 1-1.

The hit ended Wilson’s night. Seattle had a chance to take the lead right there against his replacement Fernando Salas.

Pinch-hitter Endy Chavez executed a perfect sac bunt to move Morrison to third. With one out and Morrison on third, the Mariners just needed a fly ball to take the lead. But they didn’t even put a ball in play. Salas struck out Taylor and Jackson to end the inning.

It was the first of many opportunities lost.

But thanks to a decent start from James Paxton (5 2/3 innings pitched, one run on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts) and stellar bullpen work – seven pitchers combined to work 5 1/3 scoreless innings – they had a chance to win it late.



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