SEATTLE — Mitch Haniger singled home the winning run in the 11th inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the Cleveland Guardians 3-2 on Friday night in a matchup of American League playoff contenders.
Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central was trimmed to three games over Minnesota, which blanked San Francisco. Seattle is clinging to a postseason spot in a tight wild-card race.
“We’re going to play a lot more games like this coming down the stretch,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who was ejected in the eighth. “That’s how we’re built and I feel really good when we get in tight games.”
After a tense pitching duel between starters Shane Bieber and Logan Gilbert, the Mariners got a terrific effort from their bullpen and pulled it out.
Haniger hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the 11th on a 2-0 pitch from All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase (2-3) to score automatic runner Dylan Moore from second base.
“I think in the playoffs there’s a lot of close games, so (it) definitely prepares us for them,” Haniger said.
First baseman Carlos Santana threw out a runner at the plate in the top of the 11th, and Penn Murfee (4-0) retired Tyler Freeman with the bases loaded to end the inning.
“We have the best defense in the league,” Gilbert said.
The first four runs of the game scored on sacrifice flies.
Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner, struck out nine in seven innings. He allowed two runs — one earned.
Gilbert went 6 1/3 innings and permitted two runs on eight hits.
Seattle’s bullpen came through all night, highlighted by Matt Festa starting a a 1-4-3 double play in the 10th. Los Bomberos allowed just one hit after Gilbert’s exit.
Adam Frazier’s sacrifice fly for Seattle in the seventh tied it at 2.
After issuing a leadoff walk to J.P. Crawford in the eighth, Cleveland reliever James Karinchak struck out the next three batters. The last one, Jesse Winker, was steamed about the call and got ejected along with Servais.
Haniger opened the ninth with a double but was stranded at third by Trevor Stephan.
Rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez and the Mariners agreed to a $209.3 million contract starting next season that could be worth $309.3 million over 15 years.
The deal for the 21-year-old All-Star includes seven seasons, a five-year player option, an eight-year club option with award escalators and the possibility the option could extend to 10 years. If Rodríguez earns two MVP awards by 2028 or finishes among the top five in voting four times, the deal could be worth $469.6 million over 17 seasons — including postseason award bonuses.
The team announced the deal before Rodríguez’s at-bat in the sixth, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. The deal is the 26th contract for $200 million or more.
Steven Kwan went all out in the fifth for the Guardians and luckily avoided injury. The left fielder made a leaping catch into the stands on Cal Raleigh’s fly ball into foul territory. His legs struck the wall and he fell face-first.
After a brief delay, Kwan stayed in left field to finish the inning and then led off the sixth with a single. He scored on Josh Naylor’s sacrifice fly to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
“I thought he was really hurt,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “I was afraid. After he fell, you don’t know what he hit. So I think we dodged a pretty big bullet there. He said he’s OK. He’s fearless.”
Mariners: 1B Ty France was not in the lineup after he left Thursday’s game with a bruised right calf following a collision with José Ramírez at first base. France said he was feeling better. Servais said France would be available off the bench if needed, but the manager was hoping to avoid that and have France back in the lineup Saturday.
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (2-11, 4.43 ERA) looks for his first win since June 5.
Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (5-5, 2.93) makes his fifth start with Seattle since being traded from Cincinnati. He allowed four runs against Oakland on Sunday, the most he’s given up in a Mariners uniform.
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