NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 8th, 2022

Seattle Mariners rally from seven runs down to sweep Blue Jays, win, dance, and advance

My oh my!

In a game that will sure­ly enter the annals of not only team but league his­to­ry as one of the great­est come­back wins of all time, the Seat­tle Mariners pre­vailed 10–9 over the Toron­to Blue Jays at Rogers Cen­tre to win the decid­ing game in a best of three wild card series, keep­ing their sea­son going and set­ting up a sec­ond play­off series with their divi­sion rival, the Hous­ton Astros.

At one point, the Mariners were down by sev­en runs, hav­ing failed to repli­cate the pitch­ing dom­i­nance of their Game 1 win the pre­vi­ous night, in which they blanked the Blue Jays 4–0 on the strength of a gem of an out­ing from ace Luis Castil­lo, a pitch­er who joined the Mariners mid­sea­son thanks to a trade with Cincinnati.

With the Jays hav­ing got­ten to starter Rob­bie Ray — a Jay him­self last sea­son — and his replace­ment, reliev­er Paul Sewald, it looked to many watch­ing like this wild card series would be be head­ed to a Game 3 tomor­row in Toronto.

But loy­al and stead­fast Mariners fans did­n’t give up on their team.

This is, after all, a squad that has ral­lied when down before to win, includ­ing in the bot­tom of the ninth over Atlanta a few weeks ago after Sewald gave up mul­ti­ple home runs to the defend­ing World Series champions.

Fans watch­ing at T‑Mobile Park put shoes on their heads to sig­nal to any­one watch­ing — espe­cial­ly ESPN jour­nal­ists — that they still still believed.

That faith was well placed.

Giv­en a 1% chance of win­ning by ESPN after Toron­to built a big lead, Seat­tle play­ers stepped up and deliv­ered run after after run to close the gap.

On the anniver­sary of their wild win over the Yan­kees in the 1995 Amer­i­can League Divi­sion Series — a game that yield­ed the euphor­ic Edgar Mar­tinez hit now known sim­ply and affec­tion­ate­ly as “The Dou­ble” — the Mariners recap­tured their 1995 “Refuse to Lose” mag­ic and put togeth­er enough hits to get back into the game. Most of the bat­ting order made a con­tri­bu­tion to the effort:

  • Jarred Kelenic hit a sac­ri­fice fly in the 5th to score Adam Fra­zier, final­ly putting the Mariners on the board mid­way through the game.
  • The Mariners loaded the bases in the 6th, posi­tion­ing them to take advan­tage of a wild pitch that allowed Ty France to score. Cal Raleigh and Euge­nio Suárez then crossed home plate thanks to a tow­er­ing three-run blast launched by Car­los San­tana, a key addi­tion to this year’s team.
  • Raleigh and Suárez were back at it in the eighth inning, with Suárez scor­ing on a sin­gle by Raleigh. J.P. Craw­ford sub­se­quent­ly dou­bled to score Fra­zier, Raleigh, and Mitch Haniger. This mas­sive hit tied the game at 9–9.
  • Raleigh got back on base again in the ninth inning and was ready to run when Adam Fra­zier dou­bled to deep right field. This run put the M’s ahead.

Reliev­er Andres Munoz, who was bril­liant in Game 1, kept the Blue Jays at bay in the bot­tom of the eighth, while rook­ie phe­nom George Kir­by got the final three outs for the Mariners in the bot­tom of the ninth, seal­ing the improb­a­ble vic­to­ry. The final base­ball hit by the Blue Jays land­ed in the glove of fan favorite Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners’ dynam­ic cen­ter field­er and the future of the franchise.

The tri­umph is the great­est come­back win on the road in MLB play­off history.

The ’95 Mariners, play­ing the deci­sive Game 5 at home, had to over­come a Yan­kees team that had a strong line­up and a lead late in the game. They would go on to lose to Cleve­land in the 1995 Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Series.

As it so hap­pens, the New York Yan­kees and the Cleve­land Guardians are the oth­er two AL teams still alive in the 2022 play­offs, along with the Mariners and the Astros. If the Mariners beat the Astros next week — some­thing the team, its fans, and the greater Pacif­ic North­west would real­ly like to do — Seat­tle would then face either the Yan­kees (who elim­i­nat­ed them in both the 2000 and 2001 ALCS) or the Guardians (who elim­i­nat­ed them in the 1995 ALCS).

That’s right: the road to the World Series goes through two of the three teams that arguably have tor­ment­ed the Mariners the most over the course of their four plus decades of exis­tence. Right now, the M’s are the only MLB club to have nev­er appeared in a World Series. That won’t change until Seat­tle wins a league pen­nant. The cheat­ing Astros have dom­i­nat­ed the divi­sion for most of the past few years, while Guardians and Yan­kees have the dis­tinc­tions of being the teams that have pre­vent­ed the Mariners from reach­ing the World Series.

Before this year, the Mariners had made only four post­sea­son runs. They all came in the late 1990s or ear­ly 2000s: 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001. Three of those teams, as men­tioned, reached the ALCS, while the ’97 Mariners got elim­i­nat­ed in the ALDS by the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles. The ’22 Mariners amus­ing­ly have the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing elim­i­nat­ed the Ori­oles from the play­offs. When they clinched the last A.L. wild card spot on Sep­tem­ber 30th, they snuffed out Bal­ti­more’s post­sea­son hopes.

The Ori­oles had been try­ing to get one of the Amer­i­can League’s three wild card spots, but could­n’t catch Seat­tle or AL East rivals Toron­to and Tam­pa Bay.

Toron­to and Tam­pa Bay have now fall­en (the Guardians swept the Rays to take the oth­er Amer­i­can League Wild Card Series), leav­ing the Seat­tle Mariners as the sole AL wild card team left stand­ing in the 2022 postseason.

When Cal Raleigh hit a walkoff home run last month to clinch a berth and end a twen­ty-one year play­off drought, Mariners fans every­where rejoiced.

Tonight, they did so again.

Just mak­ing the play­offs was an accom­plish­ment, but this team and its fans under­stand­ably want more. Much more. They want to make the most of an oppor­tu­ni­ty to play excit­ing post­sea­son base­ball, inspire the Pacif­ic North­west, earn nation­al respect, and bring home a cham­pi­onship to a region that last expe­ri­enced a play­off run decades ago. To do that, they’ll need to keep winning.

But as they demon­strat­ed in Toron­to, they have the poten­tial to make a deep run. The 2022 Mariners are a team with not only tal­ent, but also grit, con­ta­gious cama­raderie, and seri­ous resilience. When these M’s say “Sea Us Rise,” they mean it. They embraced the chaos, they won, they danced, and they advanced.

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