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Another BIG day from Cruz, Sucre propel Mariners in series finale win over Minnesota

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

9/25 at MIN by TOM HAYDEN

82-73, Eliminated from AL WEST, 2.5 GB in AL WILD CARD ----

The Mariners narrowly defeated the Minnesota Twins by a final score of 4-3 in Sunday afternoon's series finale matchup at Target Field. Led by home runs from DH Nelson Cruz, who had his bets series of the year, as well as C Jesus Sucre, the Mariners were able to grab hold of the win, and a series victory over these Twins! On the mound, RHP Taijuan Walker had himself a decent outing, good enough to get himself a win and boost our M's in this American League Wild Card race with now 7 games to go in the regular season. Day by day, we get closer to game 162. The M's have proved to us all season long that they are capable of making a run for the postseason, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the year 2001. With a series victory here against the Twins, the Mariners surely have a positive entrance going for them come the final 2 remaining series' of the year, September 26-29 at Houston, and September 30th - October 2nd vs the Oakland A's back home at Safeco Field in Seattle. With this crucial win on Sunday afternoon, the Mariners have now advanced to 82-73 for a team W-L record on the season so far. The Mariners now trail the Baltimore Orioles by just 2.5 games in the American League Wild Card race. The Detroit Tigers are 1.0 game ahead of us in the race. 

On the mound on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, RHP Taijuan Walker took the baseball for what was his 24th start of the season for Seattle. Walker came into the ball game having had great starts in his previous 3 outings despite 1 loss. On Sunday afternoon, Walker didn't shine, but he did work that fastball and breaking ball well and accurately enough to squeeze out a win for himself. Taijuan Went 5.1 innings in this one giving up 3 runs on 9 hits (all 3 runs earned) while walking 2 and striking out an impressive 7 Twins on the day. Walker gave up a solo homer in this one. With the decent outing, "TSkyWalk" earned himself his 7th individual win of the season and now has an individual W-L record of 7-11 so far on the season with an ERA of 4.35 in just under 130.0 innings pitched to date. Relief pitching was spectacular again on Sunday afternoon as 3 members of our bull pen combined to give up no hits in 3.2 innings. RHP Nick Vincent (3.61 ERA) who has been pitching very well lately, earned himself his 17th hold of the season in 1.2 innings of work with 2 strikeouts and a walk. RHP Steve Cishek (3.02 ERA) went 1.0 inning giving up a walk and a strikeout. Cishek earned himself his 8th hold of the season with the great outing. It was then RHP closer Edwin Diaz (2.28 ERA) who closed the door in the ninth inning for his 17th save of the season going 1.0 inning with a strikeout! Edwin Diaz now has 81 strikeouts on the season in just under 50 innings pitched to date. Now that's impressive. 

Offensively in this one on Sunday afternoon, the M's combined to put up 4 runs on 6 hits off of Twins' pitching. DH Nelson Cruz (.286 AVG) is my pick for Player of the Game as well as Player of the Series no doubt after what were probably his best 3 straight games of the season. In 12 at bats this past weekend, Cruz had 6 hits, 5 of which HOME RUNS for 8 RBI on the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, Cruz stayed hot going 2-for-3 at the plate with 2 home runs, a solo blast in the second inning of the ball game and a solo home run in the sixth inning of the ball game! Nelson Cruz now has 41 homers on the season after the 2-HR day on Sunday, and has now hit for 40 or more home runs in 3 consecutive seasons! With the 2-RBI day, Cruz now has 100 RBI on the season so far, which is a new leader among the ball club! Also contributing offensively in this one was C Jesus Sucre (.500 AVG) who went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a CLUTCH 2-run homer in the fifth inning for his first of the year! The double was Sucre's second of the season so far. Jesus now has 5 RBI on the season after the 2-RBI day. Sunday's game was Sucre's 7th of the season. 5 RBI in 7 games... that's pretty good! LF Guillermo Heredia (.229 AVG) and SS Shawn O'Malley (.230 AVG) each had a base hit in this one for Seattle. O'Malley connected for his 9th double of the season and Heredia singled in the ball game. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

The Houston Astros for what are the MOST IMPORTANT 3-games of this entire Mariners' season. Why? The M's are 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race, and Houston is 3.0 games back. Whoever wins moves up and surpasses in the standings, and who ever loses will slowly fall out of playoff contention. We have our aces going in this one however, with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma on Monday night, RHP Felix Hernandez on Tuesday night, and LHP James Paxton on Wednesday night. We have kept fighting all season, so let's make some noise right now, where it all matters. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles also commence play on Monday night. The Orioles have stood in our way for all this time in this Wild Card race, so we also want to see the Blue Jays win the next 3 against Baltimore. It's pretty simple what we have to do though....and that's WIN. If we want to get in, we have to WIN. Looking to help the M's get an important WIN on Monday night will be RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12, 4.04 ERA) making his 31st start of the season on the hill in this one (most by any Mariners' pitcher this season). Iwakuma and the Mariners are set and ready to take on HOU RHP Collin McHugh (12-10, 4.61 ERA). Be sure to catch all of the action of this very important series starting on Monday night in Houston at Minute Maid Park. Tune into ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio! First pitch start time is scheduled for 5:10 PM PAC, 8:10 PM ET! 

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

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