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Walk-off home run sends Mariners to postseason for first time since 2001

The longest playoff drought in North American sports has finally come to an end. 

The Seattle Mariners clinched a playoff spot Friday night in dramatic fashion, earning a spot in Major League Baseball’s postseason with a walk-off win over the Oakland A’s. 

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Seattle catcher Cal Raleigh hit a two-out walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to clinch a Wild Card spot in the American League and send T-Mobile Park into a frenzy. 

“The moment when I knew it was fair and then looking at the team and everybody’s jumping, it was just crazy,” Raleigh said, according to MLB.com. 

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Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, hit a 3-2 slider from A’s pitcher Domingo Acevedo 406 feet for his 26th home run of the season. 

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Manager Scott Servais #9 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after clinching a postseason birth after beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1 at T-Mobile Park on September 30, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners have clinched a postseason appearance for the first time in 21 years, the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports. 

“We did it. These players behind me are special. They care. They care about winning the right way. They care about representing the city of Seattle,” Seattle manager Servais told the crowd.

The last time Seattle was in the playoffs, it was 2001, and the Mariners tied the MLB record for wins with 116.

“There are so many kids that grew up in the Pacific Northwest that don’t know anything about the Mariners being in the playoffs,” Servais said. “And now we get to show them.”

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Seattle’s starting pitcher, Logan Gilbert, went a career-high eight innings, striking out four and allowing just one run on three hits. 

Cal Raleigh #29 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his walk-off home run during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on September 30, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. With the win, the Seattle Mariners have clinched a postseason appearance for the first time in 21 years, the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports. 

“It was crazy. I mean, I haven’t been in Seattle but a few years, but I feel like I’m one of the fans that have waited for 21 years,” Gilbert said. “It was just a culmination of a lot of waiting.”

With the win, Seattle stays 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the top Wild Card spot with just six games to go. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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