Leonys Martin’s 10th-inning home run lifted the Mariners in a dramatic 7-6 win at Oakland.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Leonys Martin knew it was gone the moment it left his bat and so did the handful of fans that made their way to the Oakland Coliseum on a cool Tuesday evening.
The sound of Josh Smith’s fastball hitting the barrel of Martin’s maple bat produced such an unmistakable crack followed by a lingering echo in the cavernous and decaying stadium that the first reaction for fans was a gasp.
“Oh, it was loud,” said fellow outfielder Ben Gamel. “It was really loud.”
Mariners @ Oakland, 12:35 p.m., ROOT Sports
The towering blast, a reminder of Martin’s swing speed and power, carried deep into the right field stands.
For the first time in a game they seemed destined to lose from the first inning on, the Mariners had a lead. And they didn’t let it go. Edwin Diaz worked around a one-out single and a walk, retiring the final two batters to secure a 7-6 come-from-behind win over the A’s. It was his 24th save on the season.
With the win, the Mariners improved to 58-56 on the season and with the Royals and Rays both losing, they moved into a tie with those two teams for the second American League wild-card spot.
It was an improbable comeback for a team that trailed by deficits of 5-1 and 6-2 in the game. The Mariners bullpen was big, pitching five shutout innings to allow the offense to rally, highlighted by Casey Lawrence two spotless innings of middle relief.
“It was a good team win,” Martin said. “Everybody contributed.”
But Martin had the highlight of the night. After watching what he had produced for a few seconds in the batter’s box, he headed for first base and before he touched the bag, he looked back and screamed toward his teammates in the dugout that he had been right.
“I talked to Nellie (Cruz) before the at-bat and I said, ‘I’m going to get this guy,’” Martin said. “I put a good swing on it. I was seeing the ball really good tonight. I didn’t try to hit a homer. I was just trying to put a good swing on it.”
Diaz, who had been warming in the ninth, had time for five warmup pitches in the bullpen before taking the mound in the 10th. He gave up the one-out single to Matt Olson and walked the ultra dangerous Khris Davis, who had hit his 30th homer of the season earlier in the game.
“If I make a mistake to him, the game is over,” he said.