SEATTLE, Wash. — Cal Raleigh hit a two-out, 406-foot solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning that sent Seattle to a 2-1 win over the A’s on Friday night and the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, hit a low, inside slider off Oakland reliever Domingo Acevedo and hit the tiebreaker.
“The moment I knew it was fair and then I looked at the team and everyone was jumping, it was crazy,” Raleigh said. Seattle, which started the day with a magic number of one, clinched an AL wild card spot. .
The club holds the No. 5 seed by a half game over Tampa Bay and is two games behind Toronto for the top wild card spot; the only non-division winning seed that would host the best-of-three first round next weekend.
With the drought behind them, the goal of the Mariners in these last six games of the regular season, all at home, is to make sure that this celebration continues in Seattle until next Friday, when the American League Wild Card Series begins. . .
Throughout the three years of transition leading up to the 2022 season, veterans Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales, the only holdovers from the previous regime, have expressed their intention not just to get in the ball, but to win it all.
With a roster packed with elite starting pitchers, a bullpen that, despite some hiccups of late, has been one of the best in the MLB, and a lineup that doesn’t have the star power of other giants but wears down opposing pitchers , Seattle has the ingredients that are often conducive to teams that win, and advance, in the playoff series.
Yet even with his talent, it hasn’t been the smoothest or easiest season. It all came to a head when the club fell to a season-high 10 games under .500 on June 19.