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Solo homers from Aoki and Zunino the difference maker in win over Athletics

9/9 at OAK by TOM HAYDEN

73-68, 10.5 GB in AL WEST, 4.0 GB in AL WILD CARD ----

3 straight wins! It's an exciting but very nerve-racking time for Mariners fans, as we slowly climb in the American League Wild Card standings with just under 25 games left to play in this regular season. On Friday night in Oakland, California, the Mariners took care of business to gain in this Wild Card chase. LF Norichika Aoki and C Mike Zunino both connected for solo homers, which were crucial in the 3-2 win over the A's. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma made the start for Seattle in this one, and as usual, tossed a reliable, solid outing. And of course, Mr. Edwin Diaz, our closer, got the save thanks to another great performance from the Mariners' bull pen. With this win the Mariners have advanced to 73-68 on the season, 5.0 games above .500. Seattle is now just 4.0 games back in that American League Wild Card spot, tied with the Kansas City Royals in the race. The Mariners are 10.5 games in back of the first place Texas Rangers of the American League Western division. 

Offensively on Friday night in OakTown, the Mariners were able to put up 3 runs on 6 hits off of Athletics pitching. Everyone who got a hit in the lineup got only that single hit, as nobody was able to do so twice on Friday night. LF Norichika Aoki was my offensive player of the game in this one as he smacked his 2nd home run of the season, a solo blast in the third inning of the ball game. The RBI was Aoki's 17th of the season! Also contributing offensively was C Mike Zunino (.219 AVG) who went 1-for-3 on the day, also batting a solo homer for his 10th of the season! Mike Zunino connected for the homer in the top of the seventh inning, and now has 24 RBI on the year so far for Seattle. It was DH Nelson Cruz (.279 AVG) who got things done in the top of the first inning as he connected for an RBI double to center to score Robinson Canó and put Seattle on the board. The double was Cruz's 22nd of the season, and he now has 86 RBIs, trailing Kyle Seager by 4 RBI for a team high. 

On the mound on Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma took the ball for his 29th start of the season, which leads all Mariners pitching in starts. Iwakuma's consistency is what makes him so reliable, and that's exactly how he pitched on Friday night. Going 6.2 innings, Iwakuma gave up just 2 runs on 7 hits (both earned) while walking 1 and striking out a solid 5 A's on the night. Hisashi earned himself his 15th win of the season, and now has an ERA of 3.96 in just under 180.0 innings tossed this season! Relief was lights out again in this one, combining to give up no runs on no hits in 2.1 innings pitched. RHP Dan Altavilla (2.08 ERA) earned his 1st hold of the season and his career, RHP Steve Cishek earned his 4th hold of the season, RHP closer Edwin Diaz earned his 14th save of the season in 13 opportunities!

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

The Mariners are now set and ready to play Game 2 against these A's on Saturday afternoon in Oakland. It will be #FelixDay as RHP Felix "The KING" Hernandez will make his 21st start of the season. Hernandez (10-5, 3.49 ERA) and the M's will take on OAK RHP Kendall Graveman (10-9, 4.03 ERA). Be sure to catch all of the action on ROOT Sports NW or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio as the M's look to win their 4th straight game and jump to 6 games over .500! First pitch start time- 1:05 PM PAC, 4:05 PM ET! 

MARINERS 365 NOTES: 

RHP Tom Wilhelmsen has been recalled off of the 15-day disabled list. 

This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue as our M's #KeepFighting for the PostSEAson! 

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