Thanks to Mitch Haniger, the Seattle Mariners still have something for which to play on the final day of the regular season.
Haniger belted a homer to highlight his four-hit, five-RBI performance Saturday night as the Mariners kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-4 victory against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
“The ‘Haniger Game,’ I think is what we can call this one,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
The Mariners (90-71), who have won 11 of their past 13 games, are tied with Toronto, one game behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for the American League’s two wild-card playoff berths.
Simply put, Seattle will need a victory Sunday against the Angels (76-85) and a loss by either the Yankees or Red Sox to force a playoff for the final wild-card spot.
“Our team refuses to quit, they never have and they didn’t (Saturday night),” Servais said. “Credit goes to our players, they keep grinding. We’ve still got something to play for in Game 162.”
Tyler Anderson (7-10, 4.41 ERA), acquired by the Mariners just before the trade deadline from Pittsburgh, is scheduled to start Sunday against fellow left-hander Reid Detmers (1-3, 7.11).
Haniger hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning Saturday to break a 1-1 tie, and came to the plate with two outs in the eighth with the bases loaded and his team trailing by a run. Haniger lined a two-run single into left field to give the Mariners a 5-4 lead. He also had a run-scoring single to break a scoreless tie in the third.
“Trying to win every single game, win every single pitch,” Haniger said. “Every pitch is so meaningful, so every run that we can bring across the plate is huge, especially in these last couple games, this last series with so much on the line. That was a good feeling.”
The winning rally came off Angels reliever Steve Cishek, a former Mariners pitcher.
“Nobody feels worse than (Cishek),” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s an iron man. He’s steady as can be and he’s been pitching actually really well.”
The Mariners clinched their first 90-win season since 2003.
“You always want to play for something bigger than yourself,” Seattle’s Kyle Seager said. “You always want to be a part of something bigger than just your own personal agenda, or goals, or stats or anything like that. You want to play for something bigger and we get the opportunity to (Sunday).”
Anderson will be making his third start in nine days. He was hammered by the Angels on Sept. 25 in Anaheim, Calif., allowing nine runs in just two innings of a 14-1 loss. He came back on two days’ rest to start Tuesday against Oakland, allowing just one run in four innings of Seattle’s 4-2 victory.
Anderson is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in three career starts against the Angels.
Detmers, a first-round pick out of Louisville in 2020, will be making his fifth major-league start and will be facing the Mariners for the first time. He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 21 after being placed on the COVID-related injured list.
–Field Level Media