The Mariners kept their flickering postseason hopes alive Thursday behind homers from Kyle Seager and Dae-Ho Lee in a 6-3 victory over the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
"We need to win as many games as we can to give ourselves a chance," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "We still feel like we have a really good one. I’ve been a part of some crazy runs at the end of the season."
Iannetta was at Colorado in 2007 when the Rockies overcame a 6 1/2-game deficit in the final two weeks by going on a 14-1 run.
"We are not done," manager Scott Servais declared. "I know many people want to write us off, but we’ve still got a bunch of games to play. It’s going to be interesting."
The Mariners won three of four against first-place Texas, which had given them fits for much of the season in winning 11 of the previous 15 games between the two teams.
"We have a good team," Seager said. "We have a lot of fight in us. Nobody has given up. Nobody has conceded anything. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played — and things happen."
What happened Thursday, besides the homers, was some shutdown relief work by Evan Scribner and Nick Vincent, along with a key moments from Iannetta — two-run double and a run-saving defensive gem.
So here’s the updated math: The Mariners are 72-68 with 22 games remaining. They trail Baltimore by 4 1/2 games in the chase for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
The odds? Not great. Still just 6 percent in the latest computations by www.FiveThirtyEight.com. But…
"We expect to make the playoffs," Iannetta said. "We expect to play well down the stretch… Until we get eliminated, if we get eliminated, that’s the thinking, that we can make it."
Now comes a trip down the coast for a pair of three-game series against Oakland (60-79) and Los Angeles (62-77). So who knows?
The Mariners, on Thursday, were clinging to a 4-3 lead when Seager provided some breathing space with a two-run homer in the seventh inning against lefty reliever Jake Diekman.
It was Seager’s 27th homer, a career high, and his third hit of the game as he raised his average to .295. It was also the first homer yielded this year by Diekman to a left-handed batter.
"That’s definitely one of the toughest lefties you’ll ever have to face," Seager said. "The angle he throws from. As hard as he throws, that’s not an easy at-bat. That was definitely a special one for me."
Mariners starter Taijuan Walker (5-10) labored often in throwing 105 pitches in five innings while implementing a series of adjustments in his approach and delivery.
"It was just a small step," he said, "but it was a small step in the right direction. It’s not going to be perfect right away. That’s one thing I kept telling myself, to just stick with it."
Scribner got five outs after replacing Walker but exited after Carlos Beltran squibbed a two-out double to left in the seventh inning. Nick Vincent protected the lead by retiring Adrian Beltre on a fly to right.
Vincent then worked a one-two-three eighth inning before Edwin Diaz closed out the victory for his 13th save in 14 chances.
The Mariners knocked out Texas starter Derek Holland in the fifth inning after successive one-out singles, but Alex Claudio got Leonys Martin to ground into a double play.
Holland (7-7) gave up four runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Walker started the game with a four-pitch walk to Nomar Mazara. None of the pitches were close. Walker went to a full count on Ian Desmond but walked him, too.
"After those first two hitters tonight," Servais said, "it would have been so easy to melt. And he didn’t. He got it going."
Walker struck out Beltran on three pitches and retired Beltre and Rougned Odor on fly balls — although Odor’s drive sent Martin to the center-field wall.
The Mariners opened the scoring when Lee’s slicing two-out drive to right field in the second inning just stayed fair at the foul pole. It was his 14th homer of the season.
Texas struck back in the third after Walker began the inning his hitting Robinson Chirinos with a pitch. One-out ground singles by Desmond and Beltran produced the tying run.
Beltre’s grounder through the left side resulted in an out at the plate — a great tag by Iannetta — but the Rangers took a 2-1 lead when Odor followed with a single through the right side.
The Mariners answered with a three-run fourth inning after loading the bases with no outs by sandwiching singles from Seager and Martin around a walk to Lee.
Iannetta then lined a two-run double just inside the left-field line for a 3-2 lead. O’Malley popped out, but Guillermo Heredia’s soft infield hopper turned into an RBI single.
Even so, the chance for a bigger inning slipped away. The Mariners left runners at first and third when Franklin Gutierrez struck out, and Robinson Cano grounded out weakly to short.
That failure to add on allowed Texas to close to within 4-3 when Desmond opened the fifth inning with a homer. That was it, though. The Mariners’ bullpen worked four scoreless innings.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Catcher Chris Iannetta made a terrific catch and tag at the plate for the second out in third inning.
The Rangers had runners at first and second with one out when Adrian Beltre grounded a single through the left side. Ian Desmond tried to score from second as Guillermo Heredia made a strong throw to the plate.
The ball and Desmond arrived roughly at the same time, but Iannetta made the catch, applied the tag and held onto the ball. The Rangers challenged the call, but a replay confirmed the out.
"You just hold your ground and try to make the catch before the slide comes into you," Iannetta said. "It’s a little luck on the timing right there. If you have the time to get it and squeeze it, you can make the play.
"Heredia gave us a chance to make a play, and we did."
PLUS: Taijuan Walker won for the first time since June 30…Dae-Ho Lee continued his recent surge by going 2-for-3 with a walk. He is 13-for-29 in his last eight games…Guillermo Heredia had two singles and a walk in four plate appearances as the leadoff hitter…reliever Evan Scribner has pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in three outings since returning from the 60-day disabled list.
MINUS: Robinson Cano had a walk in four plate appearances, but his hitting streak ended at 11 games…Nelson Cruz went hitless in four at-bats, and his RBI streak ended at six games.
STAT PACK: Kyle Seager’s 27 homers are not only a career high. It marks the fifth straight years that he’s set a career high. He hit three in 2011, 20 in 2012, 22 in 2013, 25 in 2015 and 26 in 2015.
"It keeps going up," he said. "If I play 10 or 15 more years, I’ll be in (Nelson) Cruz territory."
QUOTABLE: Manager Scott Servais on Dae-Ho Lee’s 13-for-29 surge: "He’s got his confidence back. He’s kind of got his swag. He’s got his smile back. Jolly old man running around out there.
"He’s got the magic wand going, too. He’s got a couple of hits, and the confidence is starting to grow. It’s nice to see."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners