Mariners still alive as they play Game 161

BY foxsports • October 1, 2016

SEATTLE -- The dimming postseason hopes of the Seattle Mariners gained a spark of light Friday night, and they'll get at least one more chance to play a meaningful game.

The Mariners (86-74) host Oakland in another must-win game Saturday night, trailing second-place Toronto by one game in the American League wild-card race and the Detroit Tigers by a half-game. Baltimore is two games ahead of Seattle, although the Mariners could force a tie with them with two wins and two Baltimore losses.

All that the Mariners know is that they need to keep winning. A loss Saturday is likely to be the final nail in the coffin, so Seattle is not trying to look too hard at the scoreboard and just focus on the task at hand.

"We know the position we have, but we still have to play our games," slugger Nelson Cruz said.

Seattle did its part Friday night by putting the A's away early. Four home runs, including two from second baseman Robinson Cano, led the Mariners out to a 5-0 lead on the way to an easy win. By the time Cano and Cruz hit back-to-back homers in the third inning, the Blue Jays had already lost to Boston to give Seattle a chance at making up a game in the standings.

"You want the other team to lose, but at the same time you've got to win," Cano said. "When it's time to play, you've got to give everything you've got."

The A's (67-93) don't have anything on the line as they head into the final weekend of the season. Oakland managed only two hits Friday and continues to struggle with the bats.

"Obviously, we're not swinging the bat very well," manager Bob Melvin said after the 5-1 loss. "Look at our overall numbers, and they're not that good."

Seattle has used a powerful offense to stay in the postseason hunt all the way through September. The four home runs Friday gave the Mariners 221 this season, second only to Baltimore (250) among AL teams.

The Mariners' rotation lined up well enough that the team's top two veterans -- Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez -- are slated to pitch this weekend. Iwakuma (16-11) takes the ball Saturday night with Hernandez scheduled to pitch Sunday.

Whatever happens Saturday night, at least the Mariners are playing a meaningful game in October -- something that rarely happens for a franchise that hasn't reached the postseason since 2001.

"I love this kind of situation," said Cano, who played in 51 playoff games with the New York Yankees before coming to Seattle in 2014. "It's every kid's dream come true. When you play baseball, you want to play for October."

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