Pinch hitter Cal Raleigh hit a tiebreaking, walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth inning as the Seattle Mariners ended their 20-season playoff drought with a 2-1 victory against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
Raleigh pulled a 3-2 slider from A’s reliever Domingo Acevedo (3-4) deep down the right field line and off the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe on the second deck, sparking a raucous celebration.
The Mariners (86-70) clinched an American League wild-card berth and made the playoffs for the first time since their 116-victory season of 2001, snapping the postseaon longest skid in the four major North American sports.
The NBA’s Sacramento Kings now hold that unwanted distinction, having last made the playoffs in the 2005-06 season.
Rookie right-hander Matt Brash (4-4) got the victory after throwing a scoreless inning in relief of fellow right-hander Logan Gilbert.
Gilbert pitched eight innings for the first time in his two-year career. He gave up one run on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Mariners opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Dylan Moore grounded a single to center, stole scored and came home on Ty France’s double to center.
The A’s (56-101), who took their fifth straight loss, tied it on Shea Langeliers’ solo homer to left with two outs in the top of the second. It was the rookie’s fourth long ball of the season.
The score remained that way until Raleigh delivered his 26th homer of the year.
Oakland rookie left-hander Ken Waldichuk, who entered the game with a 1-2 record and 7.15 ERA through his first five major league starts, baffled the Mariners after the first.
Waldichuk went five innings and allowed one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
Seattle sits a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay (86-71) in the chase to determine which team gets the second of three AL wild cards. The Rays clinched a playoff berth earlier Friday when they beat the Houston Astros 7-3.