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Seth Smith's big day at the plate backs a solid outing from Miranda in win over 'Stros

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

9/18 vs HOU by TOM HAYDEN

79-70, 8.5 GB in AL WEST, 2.0 GB in AL WILD CARD ----

The Seattle Mariners avoided being swept on Sunday afternoon after what had a been a tough first couple of games in the series. The Mariners did on Sunday what they had failed to do in the previous 2 games of the series; and that was plate runs. RF Seth Smith, who is no doubt my pick for Player of the Game, put up 5 of the 7 runs that the Mariners put up in the series combined, single handedly. LHP Ariel Miranda took the ball in this one, and continues to impress as a rookie in the bigs. Miranda now has a very good individual W-L record to look back it in his future years, hopefully with the Seattle Mariners. With this BIG win on Sunday afternoon at the Safe, the Mariners have jumped to 9 games over .500 at 79-70 for a team W-L record. In the American League Western Division standings, the Mariners trail the first place Texas Rangers by 9.5 games, and are just 4 games away from being completely eliminated from that contention. Seattle is not at all of of Wild Card contention however, as they are now just 2.0 games in back of the Toronto Blue Jays for that second Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays are heading to Safeco Field for a CRUCIAL 3-game mid-week series coming up this week. 

On Sunday afternoon in Seattle, offense combined to put up an impressive 7 runs on 12 hits. LF Norichika Aoki (.277 AVG) continues to dominate in that leadoff position as he went 2-for-4 on the day with a single and his 21st double of the season. Aoki put up an RBI for the Mariners and also scored a run in this one. He now has 23 RBI on the season so far. 3B Kyle Seager (.288 AVG) went 1-for-2 at the plate with a 2-RBI double in the bottom of the first inning to start up the Seattle scoring. The 2 RBI now gives Seager 95 on the season, which is a team-high! The double was his 34th on the year. It was RF Seth Smith (.264 AVG) who went off on Sunday afternoon going 2-for-2 at the plate with 2 HR, yes, 2 home runs for 4 RBI in the big 7-3 win over the 'Stros. Smith connected for a solo homer in the bottom of the third inning and a 3-RUN BLAST in the very next inning in the bottom of the fourth. Smith entered the ball game with 14 homers on the year, and he now has 16. Smith is now 1 homer away from tying a single season career high for himself. Seth put up 17 home runs in the year 2010 with the Colorado Rockies. After the 4-RBI day for Seth Smith, he now has 60 on the season! RF Ben Gamel (.188 AVG) pinch-hit for LF Nori Aoki in this one, and went 1-for-1 at the plate connecting for his first double as a member of the Seattle M's! 

On the mound on Sunday afternoon at the Safe, LHP Ariel Miranda made his 8th start of the season and 10th appearance. Miranda had a great day going 7.0 innings strong giving up just 2 runs on 3 hits (both earned) while striking out an IMPRESSIVE 8 Astros in his outing and walking just 1. Miranda gave up a pair of homers in his outing despite the rest of it being top-notch. Ariel earned himself his 5th career win on Sunday afternoon and now has a solid individual W-L record of 5-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.88 in just under 50.0 innings pitched this season. RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (7.11 ERA) immediately came in for relief going 0.2 innings giving up 1 run (earned) on 2 hits and a walk. RHP Steve Cishek (3.10 ERA) earned his 6th hold of the year so far in 0.1 inning of work tossing a blank frame. RHP closer Edwin Diaz (2.20 ERA) tossed the entirety of the ninth inning, also dealing a blank frame to cap off the BIG Seattle win! 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

The TORONTO BLUE JAYS. The team we are trying to catch in these American League Wild Card standings is now right where we want them, Safeco Field for a 3-game set for one of the most important, yes, most important series' of the year. Looking to get this series started on the right foot, and looking to get the Mariners at just 1.0 game back in the American League Wild Card standings will be RHP Taijuan Walker (6-10, 4.27 ERA) making his 23rd start of 2016 on Monday night at the Safe! Walker and the Ms are set and ready to take on TOR RHP Marco Estrada (8-9, 3.62 ERA) in what will be a pitching duel for game 1 of this crucial 3-game set. Be sure to catch all the action on ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio. First pitch start time- 7:10 PM PAC, 10:10 PM ET! 

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

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