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Seattle Mariners

Mariners stun Yankees with improbable 4-run rally in 9th

Ryan Divish Seattle Times

NEW YORK — They have won games by doing the absolute minimum in terms of runs scored. They’ve even come out ahead in games where the normally strong starting pitching falters.

On this road trip, they found a way to win a game after being held hitless for the first five innings.

In the weeks and months ahead, the Mariners will overcome larger deficits to get a victory or find more improbable pathways to prevail.

But there likely won’t be a victory quite as preposterous and unexpected as their 5-4 triumph on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

Facing a team that had won seven straight games coming into the series and was seemingly on its way to eight straight, the Mariners were down to their final two outs in the top of the ninth inning against Yankees closer Clay Holmes.

But an offense that looked listless to lifeless over the first eight innings found a way to score four runs off a pitcher that hadn’t allowed an earned run all season.

How did they do it? Well, in simplest of terms, they just kept playing hard like they had a chance to win, even if most of the 37,590 in attendance and the majority of Mariners fans watching at home figured their fate had been decided when Logan Gilbert gave up two runs in the first inning.

“Tremendous effort by our guys just hanging in there,” manager Scott Servais. “Don’t quit. You cannot quit in this game. You just keep grinding. Certainly things were not looking really good as probably one of the best closers in the league comes into the game.”

Indeed, Holmes came into the game with a league-leading 13 saves and only one blown save and a 0.00 ERA. Yes, in 20 appearances, Holmes hadn’t allowed an earned run in 20 innings pitched. On April 3, he allowed three unearned runs to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Since then he had 16 consecutive scoreless appearances, allowing a total of nine hits with four walks and 22 strikeouts.

He needed two pitches to get Josh Rojas to ground out for a quick out to start the ninth. The next out was a little more difficult to register.

Seattle’s rally started with a swinging bunt from Julio Rodriguez. The ball had a 67.8 mph exit velocity and traveled two feet per MLB Statcast. To be fair it might have traveled five or six feet.

Already 0-for-3 on the night, Rodriguez sprinted out of the box and easily beat out a throw from third baseman Jon Berti.

“You’ve got to do whatever you can,” Servais said. “And I know Julio’s timing isn’t great. He’s not off to the start the season he hoped to, but he’s finding a way to help us win.”

Cal Raleigh, who had struck out in his three previous plate appearances, worked a walk despite falling behind 1-2 in the count to put runners on first and second.

The Mariners got a big break when second baseman Gleyber Torres made an ill-advised throw on Luke Raley’s chopper of an infield single up the middle. Torres’ wayward throw skipped past Anthony Rizzo and into the Yankees dugout, allowing Rodriguez to score and the runners to move up an extra base.

“Luke Raley plays hard every day,” Servais said. “I have a ton of appreciation for that and how he runs the bases as hard as he does. And believe me, the other team notices. That’s when errors happen when the other team knows the guys are fast and they run hard. And he does it every time he’s out there.”

To Raley, it’s a simple and controllable thing to do when you are playing.

“If Julio doesn’t run hard, or I don’t run hard, then the game is over and we lose,” Raley said. “It’s one of those simple things — just put in the effort.”

Mitch Haniger followed with a looping single to center to score Raleigh from third to the Yankees lead to 4-3.

With runners on first and third, Holmes got up 0-2 immediately on Dylan Moore. But he couldn’t get Moore to chase for a much-needed strikeout, walking him with four straight pitches out of the zone to load the bases for Dominic Canzone.

“It was just a huge at-bat,” Servais said.

Playing in his first game at Yankee Stadium and having provided the Mariners with their only run against Yankees starter Marcus Stroman with a solo homer to center in the eighth inning, Dominic Canzone stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

After swinging and missing at first pitch slider, Canzone hit a towering fly ball toward the short right field fence.

“I did think it was going out of the ballpark,” Servais said. “Off the bat, from where I was sitting, I thought it was going to end up in the upper deck.”

Canzone hoped it might carry over, but knew it wasn’t off the barrel.

“I thought I just missed it as soon as I hit it,” he said. “It hit just kind of off the end of the bat. But you never know in this place.”

The ball fell short of the wall and was caught by Juan Soto. But Raley was able to tag up and score easily to tie the game.

But the Mariners weren’t finished. Ty France put them ahead for the first time in the game with a single through the right side to score Haniger with the go-ahead run.

It ended Holmes outing and there were more than few boos being rained down from disappointed Yankees fans.

Seattle had scored four runs in the ninth that had allowed a total of three unearned runs this season and against a team that allowed a total of six runs over its previous six games combined. And the Mariners rally didn’t include a home run.

“We kind of dinked them and dunked them there,” Raley said.

The game wasn’t finished. The Yankees had the top of their order coming to the plate in the ninth inning.

In the bullpen, Andres Muñoz started to get loose after Raleigh reached, putting two runners on base.

“I was really confident that we were going to do something,” he said. “I started to warm up like I’m going in no matter what.”

Muñoz took care of leadoff hitter Anthony Volpe on just three pitches — slider, sinker, slider — for a swining strikeout.

Soto was able to punch a 1-1 sinker off the outside corner of the plate into left field for a single to put the tying run on base for Aaron Judge, the reigning American League player of the week.

Muñoz threw three straight sliders to Judge to start the at-bat. The first one was low and away for a ball and Judge swung and missed at the next two. The fourth pitch was a 101-mph fastball on the outside corner that froze judge for a called strike three.

“It probably looked like 105 after those sliders,” Raleigh said.

Muñoz picked up his ninth save by getting Alex Verdugo to ground out to end the game.

“We’ve had a lot of crazy wins here over the last 7-8-9 years that I’ve been here,” Servais said. “I don’t know of anything wilder than that one.”