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The Canó Show! Robbie's 11th inning homer seals win, advances M's in Wild Card race

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

9/26 at HOU by TOM HAYDEN

83-73, Eliminated from AL WEST, 2.0 GB in AL Wild Card ----

In probably one of the most up-and-down games I have watched all season, the Mariners came out on top in the end by a final score of 4-3 in 11 innings! This crucial series with the Astros is one of the many factors in which will determine the fate of the 2016 Seattle Mariners. With 6 games left to go, the Mariners will need to go 4-2 to achieve 87 wins on the season and be a tie for that second American League Wild Card spot. Seattle got off to a very promising start in this series on Monday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, as they were able to pull away with a wild win in the end. 2B Robinson Canó had himself a NIGHT, and in the end, was no doubt my pick for Mariners Player of the Game. 1B Adam Lind also extended his hitting streak to 7 games in the ball game last night! On the mound, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma took the ball for his 32nd start of the season, and looked like he always has, offering command with every pitch throughout his outing. With this very important win, the M's are now 10 games over .500 at 83-73 on the season with 6 games left to go. For that second American League Wild Card spot, the Mariners now trail the Baltimore Orioles by just 2.0 games, tied with the Detroit Tigers in the race. The Orioles and Blue Jays will start a 3-games series on Tuesday night (9/27) which means that if the Blue Jays win and we do as well, we're moving up a solid game each tie that may happen between now and Thursday. As much as I dislike the Toronto Blue Jays, I am rooting for them this week just as much as I am the Seattle Mariners. With 6 games left to go at 2.0 games back ladies and gentlemen, we have entered the 11th hour. This is it. We've gotten to this point from great performance, so we need to finish with great performance. #KeepFighting! 

On the mound on Monday night in the Lone Star State, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma took the ball for what was his 32nd start of the 2016 season in this one. Iwakuma had himself a decent night going 6.0 innings strong while giving up 1 run on 4 hits (run earned) while walking 2 and striking out 5 Astros on the night. Iwakuma's precise breaking ball was on display in Monday night's win. Hisashi's outing was a no decision, so he maintains an individual W-L record of 16-12 on the season. Kuma's ERA is now a 3.96 in just under 200.0 innings pitched to date. Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to toss his final outing of the regular season this Friday night (9/30) back home in Seattle against the Oakland A's. In relief on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, things went very well once again all the way up until the bottom of the ninth inning. RHP Evan Scribner (0.00 ERA) immediately tossed in relief going 1.0 inning with 2 strikeouts. Scribner earned himself his 2nd hold of the season with the great outing. RHP Steve Cishek (2.97 ERA) tossed an inning of relief earning himself his 9th hold of the season with a strikeout. RHP closer Edwin Diaz (2.61 ERA) entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead under his belt, and as Mariners fans we all were just expecting Diaz to close out another Seattle W with ease. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get the job done in this one going the 1.0 inning while giving up 2 runs on 4 hits (both runs earned) while striking out 1. Diaz suffered his 3rd blown save of the season. Relief pitching was able to pick Diaz up in extra innings however as RHP Drew Storen (5.36 ERA) tossed a solid tenth inning of work. Storen earned himself his 4th win of the season after cashing in a very important blank frame. Storen now has an individual W-L record of 4-3 on the season. RHP Nick Vincent (3.55 ERA) was then able to close out this crucial Mariners' win in the bottom of the eleventh inning as he went the 1.0 inning giving up just 2 hits and striking out 1 Astro. Vincent earned himself his 3rd save of the season in the win! 

Offensively in this one, the Mariners were able to put up an impressive 4 runs on 12 hits off of Houston pitching. As I said earlier, 2B Robinson Canó (.298 AVG) had himself a NIGHT going 3-for-4 at the dish with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the ball game. Canó connected for his 34th and 35th homers of the season in this one, nothing having great meaning behind them. Robbie's 34th home run came in the top of the third inning, a solo blast, to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead. With home run number 34 on the season, Robinson Canó now has a new career high in home runs. Since his MLB debut in 2005 with the New York Yankees, Canó has never hit for over 33 home runs in a season before Monday night's game! It was later in the ball game, a lot later, when Robinson Canó yanked another solo shot to right field for his 35th homer of the season. This homer came at a very clutch time, as it would go onto be the winning run for the Mariners at this very important time of year. Canó also cashed in his 31st double of the season on Monday night, to cap off a 3-hit night. The 2-RBI night for Robbie now gives him 94 on the season so far! Can he get to 100 with 6 games remaining? I sure think so. Also contributing to offense in this one on Monday night was DH Nelson Cruz (.286 AVG) who remained in the starting lineup despite a very sore left hand. Nelson went 2-for-6 on the night with a pair of singles and a fielder's choice RBI to get the scoring started in this one. The RBI was Cruz's 101st of the season so far for Seattle. 1B Adam Lind (.234 AVG) extended his hitting streak to 7 games on Monday night going 1-for-4 at the plate with a single. LF Norichika Aoki (.273 AVG) connected for his 22nd double of the season in a 1-for-4 night at the dish. 3B Kyle Seager (.280 AVG) worked a 2-hit night going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles. CF Leonys Martin (.242 AVG) also had himself a 2-hit night going 2-for-5 at the plate with 2 singles as well. SS Ketel Marte (.258 AVG) went 1-for-4 at the dish with a single and run scored. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

A just as important Game 2 of this 3-game mid-week series is coming at you on Tuesday night! HAPPY FELIX DAY as the King will take the mound for what will be his 24th start of the season! Hernandez (11-6, 3.61 ERA) and the M's are set and ready to take on HOU RHP Mike Fiers (11-8, 4.40 ERA). With these great pitchers squaring off on Tuesday night with very similar individual numbers, it should very well be a pitcher's duel. Let's hope for sure, however, that the Mariners offense helps BIG in getting a win in this one. Catch all of the action on ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio! First pitch start time is scheduled for the same as Monday night's matchup - 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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