TORONTO (AP)Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford delivered before Adam Frazier capped Seattle’s historic comeback with one sweet swing.
A little October fun for a new generation of Mariners.
Frazier hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth inning, and Seattle erased a seven-run deficit while topping the Toronto Blue Jays 10-9 on Saturday for a sweep of their AL wild-card series.
”Those are the kind of moments you picture yourself in in the backyard when you’re a kid,” Frazier said.
It was the biggest road comeback win in playoff history and baseball’s largest comeback victory to clinch a postseason series.
Yup, it was quite a day for a franchise making its first playoff appearance since Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez and company were eliminated by the New York Yankees in the 2001 AL Championship Series. Next up for this group of Mariners is Houston in the AL Division Series.
”To go to the World Series, you have to go through Houston,” manager Scott Servais said. ”They’re really good. We understand that. We’re really good.”
Seattle got off to a 29-39 start this season, but it went 61-33 from June 21 on, trailing only the Astros (65-31) among AL teams over that span.
After winning 4-0 in the opener of the best-of-three series, the Mariners trailed 8-1 through five innings in Game 2. But they roared back, tying it with four runs in the eighth.
With two out and the bases loaded, Crawford hit a blooper to center against All-Star closer Jordan Romano.
”I was praying to the baseball gods to just let that ball sit,” Crawford said.
Center fielder George Springer and shortstop Bo Bichette went hard after the sinking liner, but it landed as the two collided. All three runners scored on the double, tying it at 9.
”It seems everything that could go wrong did go wrong in a very short period of time,” interim Blue Jays manager John Schneider said.
Bichette was able to stay in the game, but the 33-year-old Springer had to be helped to his feet before he was carted off the field. The four-time All-Star encouraged the cheering crowd as he departed.
Schneider said Springer was ”doing OK” and would be evaluated further.
The Blue Jays have lost five straight postseason games and eight of nine. Toronto, which finished one win short of a playoff berth in 2021, heads into another offseason on a disappointing note.
”It’s going to take some time,” Schneider said. ”Probably take a vacation or two.”
Cal Raleigh, who hit an RBI single for Seattle in the eighth, reached on a one-out double against Romano in the ninth. After Mitch Haniger flied out, Frazier drove in Raleigh with a double to right.
”I’m just glad the ball fell,” Frazier said.
Bichette walked, stole second and advanced to third on a grounder in the eighth, but Andres Munoz retired Alejandro Kirk to end the threat.
George Kirby, Seattle’s eighth pitcher of the game, handled the ninth for his first career save. Matt Chapman walked with one out, but Danny Jansen struck out and Raimel Tapia lined out to end the game.
”I figured he would step up, the adrenaline would be going, and he did a great job,” Servais said of Kirby.
Toronto got off to a fast start. Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo drive in the fourth against Robbie Ray, who won the AL Cy Young Award while pitching for the Blue Jays last year.
Hernandez joined Jansen and former Toronto slugger Jose Bautista as the only Blue Jays players with multihomer games in the postseason.
After Ty France scored on Tim Mayza’s wild pitch in the sixth, Santana gave Seattle’s comeback a big boost with a three-run homer.
”That gave us a chance,” Servais said
Jansen made it 9-5 with an RBI single off Penn Murfee in the seventh, but Toronto’s bullpen couldn’t close it out. Anthony Bass gave up hits to all three batters he faced in the eighth, including Raleigh’s RBI single, forcing Schneider to call on Romano for a six-out save.
Romano gave up a single to Frazier and struck out Santana and Dylan Moore, but Crawford tied it with a first-pitch double.
Toronto intentionally walked Julio Rodriguez before Romano struck out France to end the inning.
Ray, who signed a $115 million, five-year contract with Seattle in November, allowed four runs and six hits in three-plus innings.
Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman was charged with four runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in his second career postseason start. Gausman struck out seven and walked one.
”A heartbreaking loss,” Gausman said. ”Tough to watch.”
Toronto’s Whit Merrfield stayed in to run the bases after being hit on the side of his batting helmet by an 88 mph slider from Diego Castillo on his first pitch after entering in the fifth. Tapia replaced Merrifield in left field in the sixth.
Saturday was Ray’s first start in Toronto since last Sept. 30, his final appearance of the 2021 regular season, when he allowed four home runs in a loss to the New York Yankees. One of those homers was a 455-foot drive by Aaron Judge.
Jansen homered twice off Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow in Game 2 of the 2020 AL wild-card series. Bautista’s two-homer game came in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS against Kansas City. Like Hernandez, those accomplishments occurred in games when the Blue Jays were eliminated from the postseason.
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