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Stayin' alive! Mike Z's clutch homer the difference maker as M's take down A's

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

9/29 vs OAK by TOM HAYDEN

85-74, Eliminated from AL WEST, 2.0 GB in AL WILD CARD ----

Another win, and another game closer. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, let's all just take a moment to look at what we're dealing with here. 3 games to go, 2 games back in the race. One thing I want to importantly note is the fact that the 2007 Colorado Rockies were in the same exact boat that we are right now, and they went on to play in the World Series that year. Our chances at make the postseason are slim, they are, but but it also very very possible of happening, especially if our M's keep playing baseball the way they are. On Thursday night at Safeco Field, the Mariners took care of business in the series opener of what will be 2016's final regular season series. The Oakland Athletics, whom have had disappointing season to say the least, are who we have to beat to maintain hopes for the playoffs. On Thursday night, it was an up and down game for sure, but Seattle got things done in the long run to stay within 2.0 games of that second American League Wild Card spot. Also, with the 3-2 win over Oakland, our Mariners have jumped to a season high 11 games over .500 at 85-74 on the year so far. The M's now trail both the Baltimore Orioles as well as the Toronto Blue Jays who are both tied in the first and second Wild Card spots. This weekend, the Blue Jays play the Red Sox, the Orioles play the Yankees, and the Tigers play the Braves. As much as we are rooting for our M's, we also have to heavily root for Boston, New York, and Atlanta to all win as well. If all things work out, the M's will sit comfortably in a Wild Card spot come Sunday (10/2) night. Even if things don't go completely as planned, the Mariners can still be tied with a Wild Card team, in which would require 1 play-in game to get into an American League Wild Card spot. All that our Mariners have control over right now is themselves, and winning these last 3 games vs the Oakland Athletics in what should hopefully be in front of a packed, loud Safeco Field crowd. 

Offensively in this game on Thursday night, Seattle combined to put up 3 runs on an impressive 12 hits off of Oakland pitching. The bottom of the lineup really produced in this one, as the 6-7-8-9 batters each had 2-hit nights and 3 RBI. C Mike Zunino (.217 AVG) is my pick for Mariners Player of the Game as he went 2-for-3 at the plate with a single and a CLUTCH solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to left. The homer gave Seattle a tie which lead to another run the next inning to complete the win! For Mike Z, the homer was his 12th of the season, and 100th of his career, all with the Seattle Mariners. The RBI from the homer now gives Zunino 31 on the season so far. CF Leonys Martin (.249 AVG) had another good night going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for Seattle. Martin had a pair of singles, and now has 46 RBI on the season so far. SS Ketel Marte (.262 AVG) also had himself another good night at the plate with Leonys Martin as he went 2-for-4 at the dish with a pair of singles. Marte now has 33 RBI on the season so far for Seattle. 1B Adam Lind (.239 AVG) went 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of singles. DH Nelson Cruz (.287 AVG) and 3B Kyle Seager (.280 AVG) each had a single in this one (Seager also scored a run). LF Norichika Aoki (.279) just continues to rake in that lead-off spot as he also had a 2-hit night with a couple of singles in the ball game, 

On the mound in this one for the M's, LHP Ariel Miranda made his 10th start of the season and 12th appearance. Miranda has been having a fin rookie season for the M's, and he capped off his last start of the year on a good note with this one. Miranda had himself a decent outing going 5.1 innings while giving up just 1 run on 4 hits (earned run) while walking none and striking out an impressive 6 A's on the night. Miranda gave up a solo homer in the ball game. Ariel's outing was a no decision, so he maintains that individual W-L record of 5-2 on the season. He'll end the 2016 regular season with an ERA of 3.88 in just under 60.0 innings pitched to date. Relief was HUGE in this one as the bull pen combined to give up no runs on just 5 hits. RHP Drew Storen (5.26 ERA) immediately came in for relief going 0.2 innings while striking out 1. RHP Dan Altavilla (0.79 ERA) went 0.1 inning giving up 2 hits. RHP Steve Cishek (2.89 ERA) earned the win in this one going 1.2 innings giving up nothing and striking out 1 Astro. Cishek now has an individual W-L record of 4-6 on the season so far from the win. Cishek has thrown just over 60.0 innings so far this season. RHP closer Edwin Diaz (2.74 ERA) then came in the ball game to try and close out another one, and that's exactly what he did. Diaz went the entirety of the ninth inning giving up 1 run on 3 hits (earned run) while striking out a very important 3 A's in this one to secure another crucial Mariners' WIN. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

The Mariners will look to stay hot and look to keep climbing in these American League Wild Card standings come Friday night for Game 2 of this 4-game series. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-11, 4.12 ERA) is set and ready to make his 25th start of the season in this one, a very important start for him. Walker and the M's are set and ready to take on OAK RHP Raul Alcantara (1-2, 7.13 ERA)! Be sure to 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 Friday night- 7:10 PM PAC, 10:10 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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