SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle had a 1 1/2-game lead for the second wild card on the morning of Sept. 7 but lost 12 of its next 17 games and dropped three games behind the A’s with four to play. While the Mariners won their final four games, the deficit was too large for third-place Seattle to overcome.
Los Angeles, which finished with the major leagues’ best regular-season record at 98-64, was swept for the second time this season by Seattle, and now waits for the Oakland-Kansas City winner in the AL division series.
Cory Rasmus (3-2) threw three innings and allowed one run before giving way to the Angels bullpen. Most of the Angels starters were resting on the bench by the fifth inning.
Michael Saunders had a pair of RBI doubles and Mike Zunino a two-run single to provide Hernandez run support.
Sunday was about scoreboard watching with the Mariners needing help. Oakland already had a 2-0 lead when Hernandez threw his first pitch at 1:10 p.m. PDT. Fans at Safeco Field let out a collective groan and a smattering of boos when the A’s took a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning and the crowd was updated on the out-of-town scoreboard. A brief “Let’s go Texas!” chant started in the fifth inning with Hernandez on the mound but died off quickly.
At 2:46 p.m. PDT, the A’s closed out their victory in Texas and the Mariners playoff hopes were ended. The fans at Safeco Field responded with a brief standing ovation in the middle of Kendrys Morales’ at-bat after the A’s score was shown as final on the scoreboard.
Hernandez allowed just one hit — Albert Pujols broken-bat blooper in the first inning — and struck out seven. Thanks to a scoring change announced on Saturday that changed four runs to earned from his previous start, Hernandez entered the finale with a chance to pass Sale and win the ERA title.
Hernandez started the sixth inning getting C.J. Cron to ground out. Manager Lloyd McClendon gave Hernandez his moment in the spotlight, pulling him to a standing ovation with fans twirling the yellow “K” towel handed out before the game. Hernandez tipped his cap and saluted the fans, appearing the fight back tears after pitching on the final day of the season with playoff implications for the first time in his career.
One out later, Cano was replaced to a standing ovation to complete his first season in Seattle after signing a $240 million, 10-year contract. Hernandez was the first at the top of the dugout to greet Cano, who hit .314 with 14 homers and 82 RBIs.
The Mariners ultimately could not make up for a five-game losing streak as part of their final 11-game trip. No matter how many times the A’s tried to keep Seattle in the race, last week’s slump was too much to overcome. Seattle had three five-game losing streaks and lost eight straight in April, but remained in contention to the final day. The Mariners finished 41-40 at home and 46-35 on the road.
The Angels continue to wait on the playoff availability of RHP Matt Shoemaker and his recovery from an oblique injury. Shoemaker threw a bullpen session on Sunday morning and will be evaluated on Monday.
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