SEATTLE — — Mitch Haniger singled into the game-winning run in the 11th inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the Cleveland Guardians 3-2 Friday night in a matchup of American League playoff contenders.
Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central was cut to three games over Minnesota, which shut out San Francisco. Seattle is holding on to a postseason spot in a tight wild-card race.
“We’re going to play a lot more games like this down the stretch,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who was ejected in the eighth. “That’s how we’re built and I feel great when we get into tight games.”
After a tense pitching matchup between starters Shane Bieber and Logan Gilbert, the Mariners made a tremendous 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 are a lot of close games, so it definitely sets us up for them,” Haniger said.
First baseman Carlos Santana struck 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 were 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 pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits.
Seattle’s bullpen was present all night, highlighted by Matt Festa starting a 1-4-3 double play in the 10th. The Firemen allowed just one hit after Gilbert left.
Adam Frazier’s sacrifice fly for Seattle in the seventh tied it at 2.
After leading off JP Crawford in the eighth, Cleveland reliever James Karinchak struck out the next three batters. The latter, Jesse Winker, was upset by the call and was ejected along with Servais.
Haniger led off the ninth with a double, but Trevor Stephan stranded him at third.
Rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez 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 scales and the possibility of the option being extended to 10 years. If Rodriguez wins two MVP awards by 2028 or finishes in 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 Rodriguez’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 did his best in the fifth for the Guardians and thankfully avoided getting hurt. The left fielder made a leaping catch into the stands on Cal Raleigh’s fly ball into foul territory. His legs hit the wall and he fell forward.
After a brief delay, Kwan stayed in left field to end 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. “He was scared. After he fell, you don’t know what he hit. So I think we dodged a pretty big bullet there. He said it’s okay. He’s not scared.”
Mariners: 1B Ty France was not in the lineup after he left Thursday’s game with a right calf contusion following a collision with Jose Ramirez at first base. Francia said he was feeling better. Servais said France would be available off the bench if needed, but the coach hoped to avoid that and have France back in the lineup on Saturday.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (2-11, 4.43 ERA) is looking for his first win since June 5.
Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (5-5, 2.93) is making his fifth start for Seattle since being traded from Cincinnati. He allowed four runs against Oakland on Sunday, the most he has allowed in a Mariners uniform.