The math is still stacked against the Mariners. All they truly achieved Saturday in rallying for a comeback walk-off victory was tread water in their pursuit of postseason berth.
Even so, this is the kind the emotional victory that can jump-start a club and, after a recent five-game skid, the Mariners are in need of just such a boost with just 26 remaining in the season.
Jean Segura raced home with the winning run on a two-out wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning for a 7-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.
"Whatever it takes," said Robinson Cano, who earlier in the game broke a 35-game homerless drought with a two-run drive. "No matter how you win a game. A wild pitch, a hit, whatever. That was a big one."
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It wasn’t easy.
The Mariners, having erased a 6-2 deficit, loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning against Oakland reliever Blake Treinen on an error a single and an intentional walk.
The threat fizzled when Treinen then struck out Nelson Cruz and retired Kyle Seager on a pop to short left field. That left it up to Mitch Haniger.
Treinen bounced a first-pitch slider to Haniger that catcher Bruce Maxwell blocked — and then bounced another one that scooted through Maxwell’s legs.
"I was heads up for a ball in the dirt," Segura said. "He threw one (earlier), but it was too close (to go). The second one, when I saw it go through (Maxwell’s) legs, it was a good chance to score. That was an easy one (to read)."
Segura scored and, for the fifth time in their 41-year history, the Mariners had a walk-off victory on a wild pitch.
Maxwell said: "I just didn't get my glove down in time."
The victory pulled the Mariners back to .500 at 68-68 and kept them 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. Let’s reset.
Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo made quick exit after three long innings. It was a sign of September baseball and extra-deep bullpens.
While Gallardo gave up just two runs — on a pair of long homers — he needed 80 pitches to record nine outs. He gave up five hits and walked two.
The was sufficient for the manager Scott Servais to summon Casey Lawrence to replace Gallardo to start the fourth inning. The Mariners had just erased a two-run deficit on Cano’s homer.
The switch to Lawrence couldn’t have gone much worse.
Lawrence retired the first hitter on a sparkling play by Seager at third before walking Maxwell, giving up a hard double to Marcus Semien and a no-doubt homer to Matt Joyce.
Jed Lowrie walked and went to third on a line-drive double by Khris Davis before Ryan Garton could get loose. When Garton entered, he became the 39th different pitcher used this season by the Mariners.
The all-time record is 40 by the 2014 Texas Rangers.
The Mariners trailed 6-2 before they knocked out Oakland starter Jharel Cotton in the fifth. Segura and Yonder Alonso opened the inning with homers. When Cano followed with a single, the Athletics went to the bullpen for Simon Castro.
By this point, the Mariners had summoned lefty Marco Gonzales, who recently lost his spot in the rotation after five starts in which he failed to last five innings. This time, Gonzales delivered four shutout innings.
"He was the biggest key today for me," catcher Mike Zunino said. "For him to give us those innings was huge. He kept us right in that ballgame and gave up time to chip at that lead."
Segura’s two-out RBI single in the sixth made it 6-5 before Zunino pulled the Mariners even on a two-out homer in the eighth inning against Chris Hatcher.
***Hit Machine churning again: Segura boosted his average back over .300 — to .302, to be precise — by going 3-for-5 with a homer. Maybe he is finally pulling out of an extended funk.
"I don’t remember the last day I swung the bat like I did tonight," he said. "It’s a tough game. You’re going to go through some struggles. You’re going to have some bad moments.
"But, I’m still on top. I’m still hitting .300 and helping the team to win some ballgames."
"Jean, Jean, the Hit Machine" has five hits in his last 11 at-bats after an extended slump dropped his average 54 points to .298 over a 40-game span.
***Back of the line: It’s hard to imagine that Lawrence doesn’t go to the back of the bullpen line after permitting the Athletics to blow open a tie game.
It was 2-2 with Lawrence replaced Gallardo to start the fourth inning. Lawrence faced six hitters and after starting the inning with an out, gave up a walk, a double, a homer, another walk and a double.
Another run scored before Garton closed out the inning.
Lawrence’s line — giving up four runs in one-third of an inning — spiked an already high 6.56 ERA up to 7.26.
***Hurting again: Center fielder Jarrod Dyson aggravated a strained right groin muscle when breaking from the box on a grounder to short in the fourth inning. He left the game shortly thereafter.
Dyson sounded pessimistic after the game, saying he fears he might be done for the season.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners