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A’s clinch then party at Mariners’ expense

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 24, 2018

M’s starter James Paxton watches the flight of a home run by Oakland’s Jonathan Lucroy. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)
M’s starter James Paxton watches the flight of a home run by Oakland’s Jonathan Lucroy. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

The deciding moment came just about two minutes after the first pitch had been thrown Monday night at Safeco Field. A result from a game 3,000 miles away — a Yankees victory over the Rays — made it official.

Regardless of the outcome in the game between the Mariners and A’s, a postgame celebration for clinching a playoff spot would be held after the final pitch.

Champagne bottles would be popped and sprayed, beers would be emptied in a variety of ways and the accomplishment that every team sets as a basic goal at the beginning of season would be rejoiced.

That team, obviously, would not be the Mariners. Their fate was mathematically sealed a few days before and realistically met weeks ago.

No, it was the Oakland A’s, the team the Mariners once led by 11 1/2 games in the standings, the team that caught and passed Seattle in ridiculous and ruthless fashion, the team with the lowest payroll in baseball ($66 million), that was doing the partying.

And even if the Rays had somehow won their game earlier in the evening, the A’s 7-3 victory over the Mariners would have cemented at least a spot for Oakland in the American League wild-card game. The A’s are still jockeying with the Yankees for the chance to hold the wild-card game at home. New York has a 1 1/2-game lead over Oakland with six games left to play.

As for the game Monday, the A’s bashed four homers, including Matt Chapman’s two-run smash to dead center to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the seventh inning.

Mariners reliever Shawn Armstrong, who hadn’t allowed a run in 10 appearances and 11 1/3 innings since being called up, left a cutter up int the zone that Chapman hammered for his 24th home run of the season.

Oakland added two more runs in the top of the eighth off Casey Lawrence to push the lead to four runs.

The Mariners got a shortened start from lefty James Paxton, who was making his first outing since Sept. 7. With the Mariners not wanting to push Paxton in his return from pneumonia and the flu, he was on a 75-pitch limit. He threw 71 in four complete innings, allowing two runs — both coming on solo homers — on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Seattle gave Paxton a brief 1-0 lead in the first inning when Robinson Cano smoked a fastball from Daniel Mengden over the wall in center for his 10th homer of the season.

Oakland answered with a solo homer from Jonathan Lucroy with two outs in the third. Jed Lowrie gave the A’s a 2-1 lead with a solo shot in the fourth.

Khris Davis continued the solo homer barrage in the sixth, sending a shot over the wall in center off right-hander Adam Warren. It was Davis’ league-leading 46th homer of the season.

The Mariners tied the game in the most unlikely of ways. Following Mike Zunino’s leadoff double to start the bottom of the seventh, Dee Gordon pulled a fly ball to right field that bounced off the top of the wall and over for his fourth homer of the season.

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