Kyle Seager knew that the Mariners were down on Sunday in Minnesota, but he was never ready to concede that they were out. That’s because he’s been a part of historic comebacks before, which Sunday was teetering on.
With Seattle trailing by six runs entering the sixth inning and by one when he stepped to the plate in the ninth, Seager crushed a go-ahead, eventual game-winning three-run home run to power the Mariners to an 8-6 win over the Twins — the club’s largest comeback since June 2, 2016, when they overcame a 10-run deficit against the Padres.
The 11th-year third baseman who has spent his entire career in Seattle is the lone Mariner left from that game at Petco Park.
“I remember that, it was truly incredible,” Seager recalled of that historic day. “Today, it never got to the point where it felt like, you know, just roll over and get through this game. We didn’t get that late. … It did feel like we were much more in it than I certainly remember from that San Diego game.”
Seager, who finished 4-for-4 with a walk and four RBIs, originally sparked Seattle’s rally with a solo shot in the sixth, when the Mariners were down 6-0. Taylor Trammell later followed with a three-run shot that reached the right-field mezzanine, and Dylan Moore hit a pinch-hit RBI groundout in the seventh that put the Mariners in business on a day the Twins were riding the coattails of the red-hot Byron Buxton, who finished a triple shy of the cycle for the second time in the series.
“I think having the kind of jolt, that was huge. … It was not looking good at that point,” Seager said.
For a club eyeing its long-term future with its bevy of young talent, Seager — likely in his final year with the Mariners — has been an offensive sparkplug through the first nine games, even if his slash line entering Sunday didn’t show it. Homering twice in the same game for the 11th time in his career elevated his OPS to a team-best .928, and he finally has some results to go with the quality of contact he’s had.
Seager might be entering the final year of a seven-year, $100 million deal — which includes a $15 million club option for 2022 that turns into a player option if he’s traded — but he’s showing that he has a lot left to offer on the field and in the clubhouse.
“It’s certainly a confidence thing,” Seager said. “You’ve got this young group. From an individual standpoint, you can be told how good you are and all this other stuff, but until you actually have success, especially at the big league level, there’s a confidence that goes with that. So when you have guys having some success and able to come back in games, that’s big. It’s good for morale.”
Also on Sunday, amid and after the offensive heroics, the bullpen rode four scoreless innings from Will Vest, Drew Steckenrider and Montero, who picked up his second save. Starting pitcher Chris Flexen had trouble escaping jams and gave up all six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks over five innings.
“It was a really nice job of the bullpen to come in here in the second half of this game and shut down an extremely good offense,” Seager said. “I think that was a huge part of it.”
And as fans are probably gleaning to this point, if there was a theme of the afternoon from the Mariners’ dugout, it was rooted in grit. Beyond the rally, Mariners manager Scott Servais showed support for Seattle’s pitching staff when he was ejected in the seventh by second-base umpire Laz Diaz for arguing against warnings both clubs received after Vest hit Buxton with an 85-mph changeup. That followed France being hit by two pitches, which created some tension.
“I just thought it was ridiculous to give us warnings,” Servais said. “He hit Buxton with a changeup, and I think if you’re watching the game you realize if you’re going to throw [at] somebody, you don’t throw at somebody with a changeup. You throw at somebody with a 95-mph fastball. … No excuse. I probably shouldn’t have gotten thrown out there, but once in a while, your emotions get the best of you.”
In just nine games this season, the Mariners (5-4) have rallied three times from deficits of three or more runs.