If the Los Angeles Angels had defeated the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night, it would have meant the end of the road for their Cinderella story. And Jared Walsh nearly put the final nail in the Mariners’ coffin before a late-inning comeback effort.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Walsh came to bat with Brandon Marsh and Shohei Ohtani on base. He took a first pitch fastball from Paul Sewald a whopping 437 feet to give the Angels a 4-3 lead and put the Mariners season on life support.
However, Seattle did what they’ve done all year. In the bottom of the eighth, Steve Cishek hit a batter, walked another, and intentionally walked a third to load the bases with one out. After getting the second out via a fielder’s choice at home plate, Cishek allowed a two-run single by Mitch Haniger to give the Mariners a 5-4 lead.
They ultimately won 6-4, keeping their season alive and setting up a chaotic Game 162 on Sunday. Joe Maddon was excited about how his team has responded to a playoff atmosphere over the weekend, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“All our guys are getting a taste and they’ve responded really well,” Maddon said. “It’s beautiful. This is what we want to make Angel Stadium into all year long. This is what we need to do. This is what it’s supposed to look and feel like when you have that kind of a team that brings them in. That is what it’s supposed to feel like, and we have to work really hard to get to that point.”
And in other positive news, Walsh’s three-run homer came at the end of an incredible stretch of baseball. Since August 28, Walsh is slashing .343/.400/.574 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. He spoke about this stretch and how it will affect him going to the offseason.
“It’s really important to finish the season with momentum,” Walsh said. “I’ll address some things this offseason, but I’m pretty happy with how I’ve trended since September. It was a dream come true to play a season wire-to-wire. I learned a lot and have a lot to improve on, but I think it’s gonna be exciting times in Anaheim moving forward. I think we’re gonna get healthy and really good.”
MLB now looks to Sunday, where one game can decide so many different things. For the Mariners, it’s simple. A loss and they miss the playoffs. A win and a loss by either the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox ensures them a Game 163 for a Wild Card bid.
The Angels have a chance to play the ultimate spoiler, and they’ll have rookie Reid Detmers on the mound to do it.
Jose Suarez earning 2022 rotation spot
After the Angels defeated the Mariners on Friday night, Maddon had endless praise for starter Jose Suarez. In his final start of the season, he allowed just one run on three hits over five innings of work.
As the Angels search for options to fill starting pitcher roles next season, Maddon was fairly confident that Suarez will be a part of that equation.