To the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time since 2001, thanks to Cal Raleigh’s efforts with the Seattle Mariners. The 21-year absence from the playoffs was the longest in sports. Having a walk-off home run be the deciding factor made the accomplishment that much sweeter.
On Friday night, the Seattle Mariners faced off against the Oakland Athletics. They were currently sitting in the second American League Wild Card place. The Seattle Mariners needed a victory on Friday to guarantee themselves a Wild Card berth, as they trailed the Baltimore Orioles by five games.
The score was tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, so Cal Raleigh came in to pinch-hit for Luis Torrens. On a 3-2 count, Raleigh blasted a game-winning home run that barely sailed over the right-field foul pole.
Every kid who dreams of becoming a baseball star imagines a world where they actually play in a game like that. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the count full, he hit a home run that won the game. The script was perfect in every way.
Full count, two outs, bottom of the 9th, pinch-hit, walk-off homer to clinch a playoff berth.
It's what kids dream of in the backyard. And statistically, it's never happened — in MLB history — until Cal Raleigh's heroics last night.https://t.co/S9G3A2ROUr
— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) October 1, 2022
After hitting the home run that put Seattle in the playoffs, Cal Raleigh talked to MLB reporters about his experience. Raleigh was really taken aback. Not until he heard his friends erupting in celebration from the bench did he realize the gravity of the situation. As Cal Raleigh put it, “the moment when I understood it was fair and then looking at the squad and everybody’s jumping, it was absolutely wild.”
This happening in the Mariners’ home stadium was a big deal. It was a sight to watch the entire fanbase cheering as the team qualified for the playoffs after the sport’s longest drought on record was broken.
Cal Raleigh sends the Mariners to the postseason for the first time in 21 years with a walk-off home run! pic.twitter.com/1P7PpxlPhL
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 1, 2022
However, the Mariners’ postseason seed is far from set despite having won a Wild Card position. In the American League, they are presently ranked fifth. They lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 0.5 games and are 2.2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays. Their final six games in the regular season will determine whether they finish in the fourth or sixth spot in the playoffs.
If the Seattle Mariners can stay healthy, they could be a pleasant surprise in the playoffs. Julio Rodriguez, a star as a rookie, has been on the disabled list since before the Oakland series. He has been resting and rehabbing from a back issue.
This year, he has elevated his game to an elite level, and the Seattle squad is a much different one because of it. If he gets healthy in time for the playoffs, this club could be very difficult to beat.