ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Seattle Mariners get to where they want to, which is in the postseason, they will look back on the final out of their 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday as one of the reasons they got there.
With two outs and the bases loaded and the Mariners clinging to a one-run lead, Kyle Seager made one of the biggest defensive plays of his career to save the Mariners from a disastrous, soul-crushing loss.
On a 3-2 count, Andrelton Simmons ripped a hard ground ball down the third-base line that if it gets into the outfield scores the tying and winning runs with ease.
But Seager dove for the ball, gloving it near the line. He scrambled to his feet and fired off balance to first base where Dae-Ho Lee gloved the one-hopper to get Simmons by a step and end the game.
It ended a drama-filled bottom of the ninth that saw Edwin Diaz almost blow his first save. The hard-throwing closer instead is now 8 for 8 in save opportunities. But this one was far from simple. Diaz came in to protect a 4-2 lead, but gave up an RBI single to Yunel Escobar and a one-out single to Mike Trout, who advanced to second on a throw in from the outfield. The Mariners intentionally walked Albert Pujols to load the bases. Diaz struck out Jefry Marte and then got the big play from Seager.
The Mariners improved to 64-55 and will go for the series victory on Thursday night with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound.
Cody Martin’s first major-league start in almost a year didn’t get off to an auspicious beginning. He gave up a single to Escobar (5 for 5) to start the game, surrendered a double to Kole Calhoun and hit Trout with a pitch to load the bases. Pujols singled to left to score a run and Marte followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score another run. But the not-fleet-of-foot Pujols made an incorrect decision and tried to advance on the throw in and he was tossed out at second.
Robinson Cano put a stop to the bleeding as only he can. Cano made a brilliant backhanded, lunging stop behind second base on Simmons’ hard ground ball up the middle. He then fired off balance to first to get Simmons for the third out of the inning.
Down 2-0, the Mariners answered immediately in the top of the second against Angels starter Tyler Skaggs.
Seattle loaded the bases with no outs and actually scored runs, unlike many past similar occasions. Chris Iannetta hit a hard single off the glove of a diving Escobar to force a run in. Leonys Martin followed with a deep sacrifice fly to center that allowed Nelson Cruz to hustle home to tie the score.
The Mariners took a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, with Iannetta doubling high off the wall in left-center to start the inning. He later came around to score on Ketel Marte’s sac fly to center. With Martin on third, Shawn O’Malley dropped a bunt down for a single. On the play, Martin was halfway home and froze. The Angels’ first baseman, Marte, fired to third wildly. Anticipating the throw to third, Martin sprinted home for the run without a play at the plate.
Martin maintained the lead, getting some help from awful Angels’ baserunning in the second and third innings and a 1-2-3 fourth inning. But Martin wouldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. A one-out walk to Calhoun loaded the bases and brought Trout to the plate. Manager Scott Servais took no chances, going to his bullpen.
Veteran right-hander Drew Storen came in and was able to strike out Trout looking, pulling the string on a slider after four straight fastballs. Storen then watched as Martin faced down a Pujols drive to deep right center and made a beautiful running catch for the final out of the inning.