Entering their final series of the regular season, the Seattle Mariners had won 10 of their previous 11 games to stay in the American League’s wild-card chase.
The lone loss in that time came Sept. 25 in Anaheim, Calif., when they were trounced 14-1 by the Los Angeles Angels.
In that game, Angels starter Jaime Barria had to leave after two innings with a shoulder injury that relegated him to the injured list. Rookie left-hander Jhonathan Diaz came on and pitched the remaining seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits to earn his first major-league victory in just his second appearance.
The Mariners will get another crack at Diaz (1-0, 3.12 ERA) on Saturday when he will start in Seattle against right-hander Chris Flexen (14-6, 3.67), who is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts against the Angels this season. Seattle is 21-9 when Flexen takes the mound.
“(Diaz) came in and defined that game,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Give Diaz a lot of credit. He saved the bullpen the last several games. He pitched well. The last time he pitched (Sept. 17 against Oakland), he got off to a bad start. (Last Saturday) he settled in and kept making pitches all night long.”
The Mariners (89-71) dropped a game behind Boston in the chase for the AL’s second and final wild-card berth Friday night with a 2-1 loss to the Angels (76-84). Meanwhile, the Red Sox beat the host Washington Nationals 4-2.
The Toronto Blue Jays also are in the mix, a game back of Boston.
Seattle scored its lone run Friday in the second inning on a run-scoring double by rookie Jarred Kelenic.
The Angels responded with Brandon Marsh’s two-run double in the top of the third to end the scoring.
It came in front of 44,169 fans, the first sellout in Seattle this season.
“What an environment (Friday night), just an awesome setting,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “T-Mobile was rocking. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get enough going offensively for it to turn our way tonight. We have played that game so many times this year, it’s incredible. When we’re in that type of game, we’ve just had a knack of coming up with the big hit, creating havoc out there on the bases and getting enough action to push across a run. It just didn’t happen (Friday).”
Angels reliever Jose Quijada entered in the seventh with two runners on and struck out the side. Former Mariners pitcher Steve Cishek worked the eighth and closer Raisel Iglesias overcame a leadoff double by Kyle Seager in the ninth to earn his 34th save.
“Our guys got that opportunity to get to feel what it’s like to go to the playoffs,” Maddon said. “It definitely had that vibe (Friday).”
Now, the Mariners will need some assistance if they’re to end their postseason drought that extends to 2001, the longest in the four major professional sports.
“We are where we are,” Servais said. “We’re at the moment of truth. (Saturday’s) game is a big one, obviously and we’re going to need some help here.”
–Field Level Media