Against all odds, Cruz homers in ninth to lift Mariners past red-hot Cleveland, 3-1

Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth off Indians closer Cody Allen to give the Mariners a 3-1 victory and a little reason to celebrate in a week that hasn’t been much fun.

So the team that had lost six consecutive games and looked lifeless in doing so goes up against the team that had won 27 of its past 28 games and looked unbeatable during that stretch.

What happens?

Well, baseball.

SATURDAY

Of course, the Mariners, the team with a near flatline pulse and on the verge of mathematical elimination, defeats the hottest team in baseball, the Cleveland Indians, who set a record with a 22-game winning streak and rolled into Safeco Field on Friday having lost just once in the past 28 games.

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Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth off Indians closer Cody Allen to give the Mariners a 3-1 victory and a reason to celebrate in a week that hasn’t been much fun.

It was his third consecutive game with a home run, giving him 36 on the season and adding to his career-high total of 114 RBI.

“That’s the best team in the American League,” Cruz said. “They have the record and good offense and pitching.”

And the Mariners beat them to improve to 75-79, staving off official elimination for another few days.

The randomness of a 162-game season leads to moments like that. It’s what makes baseball beloved by most and loathed by others.

It’s also served as an exasperating reminder of how good the Mariners can be when they perform at expected levels, which hasn’t happened enough this season.

“We played a good game tonight,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It was obviously led by our pitching from Erasmo Ramirez. Offense was a challenge, and we got some hits late. That’s what you need to beat good teams, get the big hit late and make big plays late in the game. Obviously, the last six days we haven’t done that.”

With the scored tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Robinson Cano singled to right off Allen to bring Cruz to the plate.

On a 2-1 fastball, he crushed a towering shot to deep right center.

“We have a day game tomorrow,” he joked. “It was time to end it.”

While Cruz was the hero late, Ramirez was the reason the Mariners even had a chance at victory.

Facing a potent lineup and knowing he wouldn’t get much run support…

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