'Gritty' Mariners don't back down in comeback win
'This team is built for greatness,' McClendon says
SEATTLE -- Seattle fell behind by five runs on two separate occasions Sunday, so when the ninth inning arrived with the Mariners trailing the Texas Rangers by one, they didn't flinch. And it didn't surprise manager Lloyd McClendon when Nelson Cruz gave the Mariners an 11-10 walk-off win with a bases-loaded single in the ninth.
He attributes the comeback ability to the makeup of his club.
"I said this before, this team is a very gritty bunch," McClendon said. "They're built for this. They're tough. Character-wise, they're tough. We have a nice mix of veterans and young players. This team is built for greatness. I don't know what's going to happen, but I like where we are."
The comeback actually started in the eighth, when Rangers closer Neftali Feliz came on in relief with one out and the bases loaded. Feliz struck out Cruz, but Kyle Seager followed with a two-run single to cut the deficit to 10-9.
That set the table for the memorable ninth.
Feliz allowed a leadoff single to Brad Miller and then issued a one-out walk to Seth Smith. Austin Jackson followed with a single to right, scoring Miller to tie the game. After a Weeks flyout and an intentional walk to Robinson Cano, Cruz stepped to the plate. The Rangers had no play on his hard single through the left side.
"He's a great pitcher, especially with the shadow [over the plate]," Cruz said. "It's kind of tough, especially with breaking pitches."
While Feliz allowed two inherited runners to score, he was tagged for two of his own. Those runs were the first he has allowed in his career to Seattle, a streak that spanned 27 2/3 scoreless innings over 22 games (one start).
"He's their guy," said Miller. "Like I said, that's the guy they're going to hand it off to. He's their stopper. I thought collectively, we had six or seven pretty good at-bats off him."