They did it again: Mariners' late rally stuns A's

Win puts Seattle just three games back of AL Wild Card spot

August 24th, 2021

OAKLAND -- If one thing about these 2021 Mariners is for certain, it’s that there will seldom be a time when they go quietly into the night.

Behind Ty France’s second game-tying, ninth-inning home run in as many days and Jake Bauers’ go-ahead, two-run single, the Mariners put up three runs in the ninth to upend the A’s, 5-3, on Monday at Oakland Coliseum. It was Seattle's second late-game comeback in as many days, a pair of dramatic, clutch wins that have come to define this season.

“It’s been crazy the number of late-inning, come-from-behind wins we’ve had here throughout the year, but certainly on this trip,” said manager Scott Servais, whose club is now three games back of the second Wild Card spot.

Monday's electric ninth-inning comeback came a day after Seattle stormed back in Houston to defeat the Astros, largely behind the exploits of France. The first baseman, who now has four home runs in his last five games, hit the game-tying home run off All-Star closer Ryan Pressly to push the game to extra innings. In the 11th, France once again played the hero with a go-ahead single, propelling the Mariners to the come-from-behind win.

That propensity for last-at-bat heroics has Seattle in pretty exclusive company, too.

According to Stats by STATS, the Mariners have taken the lead in their final at-bat to win a game in 19.8 percent of their games (25 of 126 games this season). Only the 1918 Washington Senators (20 percent) accomplished that a higher clip in American League history.

This is what the Mariners do: come through when it matters most.

“Ever since I’ve been here, he’s been as steady as they come,” Bauers said of France. “It’s impressive to watch, really, especially just the way he comes back at-bat to at-bat. He’s never down on himself. He’s never worrying about a strikeout or anything like that. He’s always ready for the next one. He’s always locked in. It’s pretty impressive to watch.”

France, Bauers and company only furthered the collective agony of the A’s bullpen, which has given up go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning or later to drop three consecutive games. But prior to the ninth inning, the Mariners were set up for a disappointing loss themselves.

Left-hander Marco Gonzales wasn’t as sharp as he has been in recent weeks, but put together a solid start, allowing three runs (two home runs) across six innings with no walks. The bullpen held firm after Gonzales’ departure as Erik Swanson and Anthony Misiewicz put up scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings.

But heading into the ninth inning, the Mariners’ offense was pretty much silent, the only real damage being Mitch Haniger’s two-run home run in the sixth inning that, at that point, tied the game up at two.

Enter France. On a 1-1 count, he got a middle-middle fastball that he didn’t miss, clearing the right-center field fence with a solo shot to stun the home fans and flip the game on its head.

“Enough people aren’t talking about him,” said Gonzales. “I think he should be AL Player of the Month. Our MVP as of late. The guy comes through time and time again.”

Abraham Toro and Jake Fraley immediately followed up with a single and double, respectively, putting runners on second and third with no outs, but it looked as if the Mariners were going to let that opportunity go to waste. With the infield playing in, Jarred Kelenic struck out swinging, as did Cal Raleigh.

That left the onus on the shoulders of Bauers, who wouldn’t leave ducks on the pond. In a two-strike count, Bauers went the other way on a changeup out of the zone, slapping it into left field and allowing Toro and Fraley to score easily. Paul Sewald then sealed the victory with a scoreless ninth to cap a wild two-game sequence for Seattle.

The go-ahead knock was extra sweet for Bauers, given how his playing time has dipped in recent weeks. Bauers started hot upon arriving in Seattle via trade, but began slumping hard in late June and was relegated to the bench in mid-July. Since Aug. 4, Bauers has started only five times.

Bauers said something clicked during the team’s recent road trip in Houston, feeling like his swing was back in a good place.

“It’s hard when you’re not playing every day and you don’t feel like you’re contributing,” Servais said. “He got a huge hit tonight and a big smile on his face. Great to see."