Mariners refuse to quit in 'crazy' comeback win over Yanks

After a quiet 8 innings, Seattle scores 4 in 9th to snap New York's 7-game win streak

May 21st, 2024

NEW YORK -- It was easily the Mariners’ most improbable win of the year. Blink, and you would’ve missed it.

Seattle stormed all the way back to a dramatic 5-4 win on Monday night at Yankee Stadium, manufacturing a four-spot in the top of the ninth inning to stun the American League-leading Yankees and snap their seven-game win streak.

With one out, Julio Rodríguez legged out a swinging bunt and Cal Raleigh walked, then Luke Raley reached on an infield single, plating a run via a throwing error by Gleyber Torres that sailed into the home dugout.

Mitch Haniger followed with an RBI knock, Dylan Moore drew another walk to load the bases after falling into an 0-2 count, then Dominic Canzone hit a 315-foot sac fly to the right-field warning track that tied the game, one inning after he ended Marcus Stroman’s shutout bid with a Statcast-projected 426-foot solo homer.

And Ty France went for the jugular with a 94.6 mph single into the right-field gap before J.P. Crawford flied out. That handed things over to Andrés Muñoz, who locked down his ninth save -- which featured a 100.8 mph fastball for a called strike three to Aaron Judge for the second out, his fastest pitch of the year.

“We've had a lot of crazy wins here over the last seven, eight, nine years that I've been here, but I don't know of anything wilder than that one,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Tremendous effort by our guys just hanging in there. Don't quit. You cannot quit in this game.”

How improbable was Monday’s comeback? The Mariners had more than 90% odds of losing from the bottom of the fifth inning on, according to Baseball Savant, and 99% after Josh Rojas hit a grounder for the first out in the ninth.

Making matters all the more impressive was that Seattle’s rally was against former All-Star closer Clay Holmes, who hadn’t surrendered an earned run all year -- yes, a 0.00 ERA in 20 outings entering Monday.

Of all their knocks in the ninth, only Canzone’s 101.1 mph sac fly was classified as hard-hit. Basically, they dinked and dented the Yanks to death.

“I just didn’t make the pitch when I needed to,” Holmes said. “Some of the two-strike pitches were competitive, some weren’t. I think if a few more of those had been competitive, especially in the zone there, tonight could have looked different.”

Hustle was just as vital. The rally started with Rodríguez racing to a 31.0 feet-per-second sprint speed and reaching first in 4.20 seconds, his fastest time on a single this year. The lumbering Raley reached a 29.7 sprint speed (well above the league average of 27.0) and induced Torres’ wide throw.

“That's when errors happen, when they know that the guy is fast and they run hard,” Servais said. “And he does it every time he's out there.”

For the second time in three days, the Mariners eked out a victory in a game that, for most of each night, they had no business winning. Seattle had just two hits -- both singles from Raley -- before Canzone’s homer with one out in the eighth. On Saturday in Baltimore, the Mariners were no-hit by Grayson Rodriguez through five before breaking through against a leaky Orioles bullpen.

Holmes, however, has statistically been the game’s best closer, with an MLB-leading 13 saves.

“We see kind of where we stand -- we can go out and beat these guys,” Raley said. “Just good confidence, and coming in here, it's a tough place to play.”

It’s Muñoz, though, who might be closing the gap, at least by his standing among the league’s best leverage arms -- and especially given how he dominantly dispatched Judge, after a one-out single to Juan Soto.

Muñoz threw three straight sliders to the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player, then perfectly dotted the heater on the outer black.

“That fastball probably looked like it was 105 [mph],” said Raleigh, who called the pitch sequencing.

On a grander scale, the Mariners are cognizant that they need to create more offense before a given game reaches a tipping point. Because for much of the night, it looked like they’d spoil the eighth quality start from Logan Gilbert in 11 outings.

Yet victories like Monday’s are the type that they believe can go a long way in building trust, character and long-term identity within the clubhouse. It hasn’t always looked pretty, yet for the eighth day in a row -- double their entire total in 2023 -- they went home with sole possession of first place in the AL West.