SEATTLE — The Oakland Athletics got to be spoilers and in the process saw some of their young players thrive playing in a charged, playoff atmosphere.
Joey Wendle hit a tiebreaking double in the 10th inning and the A’s ended the Seattle Mariners’ playoff hopes with a 9-8 victory on Saturday night.
Bruce Maxwell opened the 10th with a double off closer Edwin Diaz (0-4), and Wendle’s fourth hit of the night scored pinch-runner Chad Pinder with the winning run.
“We talked about, before the series, that this was kind of our playoffs and the atmosphere would be different for these younger guys than anything they’ve ever experienced before,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “To get this many contributions from so many guys on the roster today, and in particular some of the younger guys … this is really going to serve them well in the future.
The Mariners were hoping to take their playoff chances to the final day of the regular season for the second time in three years. After rallying for three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to tie it 8-8, the Mariners couldn’t make game No. 162 count.
Oakland got contributions throughout its lineup to ruin Seattle’s chances. Marcus Semien had four hits, including an RBI double in the eighth inning to put Oakland back ahead. Khris Davis hit his 42nd home run of the season and had an RBI double during Oakland’s four-run third inning against Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
But the standout was Wendle. Batting ninth in the order, Wendle scored twice, had three singles and capped his night with the winning double.
“It made it fun. As a player, you thrive in an environment like that,” Wendle said. “It was one of those games where you wanted to be up to the plate. I know there wasn’t a guy in the dugout who didn’t want to be up at the plate or didn’t want the ball to be hit to them.”
Seattle had its chances late to push the AL wild card race to the final day as a four-team race. The Mariners rallied from 5-2 and 7-4 deficits to pull even at 7-all in the seventh inning after a two-run home run from Nelson Cruz, his 43rd of the season. Ben Gamel’s two-out single in the eighth scored Mike Freeman to tie the game again.
Seattle will lament missed opportunities in the eighth and ninth innings. Each time Seattle had the bases loaded with two outs and couldn’t push across another run.
“I’ve only been a Mariner for a year but I have to believe that will go down as one of the most memorable games in Mariners history,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way. You know, can’t say enough about our team. The competitive spirit. You know, how they went about things this entire year.”
Oakland also got a lucky bounce in the 10th. Gamel opened the bottom of the inning with a single, but Ryan Madson (6-7) recovered to jam Robinson Cano and force a weak groundout to third. Cruz hit a liner that bounced off Madson’s leg and directly to first baseman Yonder Alonso for the second out and prevented Gamel from possibly scoring from second.
Kyle Seager flew out to center field for the final out.
The Mariners last reached the postseason in 2001 when they tied the major league record with 116 wins in the regular season but were eliminated in the AL Championship Series by the New York Yankees.
Seattle was well aware it needed a victory to stay alive in the wild-card race as highlights and updates of the other games were shown in the stadium throughout the early innings.
Lost in the drama of all the late action was a shaky final performance by Iwakuma. After carrying the Mariners for stretches of the season, Iwakuma lasted just 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs in his last start of the year.
Oakland starter Jharel Cotton had allowed only two runs into the fifth before giving up Cano’s two-run homer that pulled Seattle within 5-4.
Athletics: Left-hander Sean Manaea (6-9) closes out his rookie season on Sunday. Since coming off the disabled list in mid-September, Manaea is 1-0 with an 0.50 ERA in three starts.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (11-7) makes his final start of the year. Hernandez lost his last start against Houston.