SEATTLE -- The Mariners were locked in a tie with the Yankees when Mitch Haniger came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth."Mitch Haniger took over the last inning of the ballgame," said manager Scott Servais.Haniger drew a walk, stole a base and scored the decisive
SEATTLE -- The Mariners were locked in a tie with the Yankees when Mitch Haniger came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth.
"Mitch Haniger took over the last inning of the ballgame," said manager Scott Servais.
Haniger drew a walk, stole a base and scored the decisive run, then made a spectacular diving catch in right field to end the game a half-inning later, securing the Mariners' 3-2 win and Edwin Diaz's Major League-leading 54th save Sunday at Safeco Field.
"He's shown he's a good all-around player," Servais said of Haninger. "We get all excited about his bat and the power and the quality at-bats, but he can defend, he can throw, he runs the bases well. He's a heck of a player."
After Haniger drew a walk off Dellin Betances to start the eighth inning, he pulled off an evasive swim move on a headfirst dive into second to get into scoring position. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt from Jean Segura, Haniger made a second impressive slide: this time feet-first to score on Robinson Cano's fielder's choice grounder to short.
"It's harder for a catcher to reach down all the way to the ground," Haniger said. "For me, I was just trying to stay as low as I can."
The Mariners remain 7 1/2 games back in the hunt for the second American League Wild Card spot, with the A's scoring seven unanswered runs to best the Rangers, 7-3, in Oakland on Sunday.
Starting pitchers Erasmo Ramirez and Carsten Sabathia put up near-identical lines, with each yielding two runs while completing five innings with four punchouts to keep their teams in the ballgame.
The Yankees opened scoring on back-to-back one-out doubles by Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar in the first inning -- the first a sun double that got lost between left fielder Cameron Maybin and shortstop Segura.
The Mariners responded with in the bottom of the frame with consecutive two-out singles from Cano, Nelson Cruz, Ryon Healy and Maybin -- with Healy and Maybin picking up an RBI apiece.
"We got a couple runs early and then CC kind of shut us down," Servais said. "When you get into their bullpen, it's always a challenge to mount something. But we did some things right fundamentally today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ramirez pitched his way out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, allowing only an RBI walk to Andrew McCutchen that came after a controversial ball-three call that ran the count full.
"He was able to make pitches," Servais said. "I thought he had McCutchen struck out on the 2-2 pitch. We didn't get the call and he ends up walking him, but he kept grinding through it. It wasn't his sharpest outing, but he made pitches when he needed to to keep them off the board the best he could."
Added Ramirez, "I really wish the umpire had called a strike or he had swung the bat, but it didn't happen. It's part of the game. [McCutchen] is a good hitter. He took good pitches, swung at good pitches. And he was kind of hot the last two games, so I'm kind of happy to keep the ball inside the ballpark and give the team a chance to win."
Diaz has taken sole possession of fifth place on the all-time single-season saves list. With one more, he'll enter a three-way tie with Eric Gagne (2003) and John Smoltz ('02) for third. Bobby Thigpen is second with 57 saves in 1990, and Francisco Rodriguez has the record with 62 in 2008.
Additionally, Diaz notched his MLB-leading 27th one-run save, which is the most all-time. Eric Gagne had 24 in '03.
"That's too many. Too many for me," Servais said. "But he continues to just go after guys. [Brett] Gardner was trying to slow the at-bat down and get on the umpire, but Eddie doesn't lose focus. He just stays right after them and that's a sign of his maturity really growing."
Gardner was ejected after striking out for the second out of the ninth.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
September callup Kristopher Negron played third base for the first time in an MLB game since he did so in 2015 for the Reds. The utility man made a crucial over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory for the second out of the fourth inning to help Ramirez escaped a bases-loaded jam.
HE SAID IT
"I take pride in every facet of the game. Defense, offense, baserunning, everything. It's something that -- I was lucky enough to play for some really good coaches coming up in high school and college and they taught the game the right way." -- Haniger
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Haniger showed off yet another one of his five tools in the second inning, making a strong throw to third base on a hop that nearly nabbed Luke Voit. Voit was ruled safe, but Servais thought it was close enough to challenge. A replay review confirmed the safe call.
The Mariners get a mid-homestand off-day on Monday before opening up a two-game set with the Padres on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Marco Gonzales (12-9, 4.32 ERA) will rejoin the rotation after missing nearly three weeks with a strained neck. He'll face San Diego's Bryan Mitchell (1-3, 6.58), who allowed allowed one run and two hits through five innings last time out vs. the D-backs in his return from an elbow impingement injury.
David Gottlieb is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.