SEATTLE — The Mariners' obituary could've been written a few days ago when they were swept by the Rangers to start the season's final homestand and extending a six-game losing streak. For all intents and purposes, the Mariners were done then.
But on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon where the fall chill was apparent, the Mariners were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention in a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians (coupled with the Twins' 10-4 win over the Tigers).
That it came at Safeco Field in the final home game of the season was somewhat fitting, if not disheartening for Mariners fans, who will go yet another year without postseason baseball. The longest streak without a playoff appearance, dating back to 2001, will continue to 2018.
Seattle fell to 75-81 and is limping toward the finish. The Mariners end the season with a seven-day, six-game road trip, starting with a three-game series with the Oakland A's, who are in last place in the American League West at 72-83. But Oakland has won nine of their last 11 games and could overtake Seattle to climb out of the division cellar.
Cleveland starter Corey Kluber, perhaps the only starting pitcher to have a claim on Chris Sale's perceived Cy Young Award, was solid if not dominant.
Kluber pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts to improve to 18-4. It was the 15th outing this season that Kluber posted double digit strikeouts.
In the search for positives for the Mariners, the late-season acquisition of starter Mike Leake and the continued growth of outfielder Ben Gamel are something that will be relied upon heavily next year.
Leake suffered his first loss as a Mariner in five starts to fall to 3-1. Still, he pitched 62/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Acquired in September, Leake has been solid since joining the team and is locked into a rotation spot next season, giving the Mariners a consistent veteran presence to go with James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Erasmo Ramirez.
Gamel provided the only Mariners runs, jumping on a first-pitch cutter from Kluber and crushing a two-run homer to right field tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning. It snapped a streak of 262/3 scoreless innings for Kluber. Gamel, who is slotted in to be the every day left fielder next season, now has 11 homers and 58 RBIs.
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