SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners will start their first playoff trip in two decades on the road after a costly 4-3 loss Monday night to the Detroit Tigers, who got a two-run homer from Javier Báez.
Sam Haggerty singled with two outs in the ninth and hurt his left groin while sliding into second base successfully. He needed assistance to leave the field, an arm draped over manager Scott Servais and an athletic trainer.
Haggerty is to have an MRI Tuesday.
Andrew Chafin struck out Carlos Santana for his third save.
Seattle, assured of a postseason trip for the first time since 2001, will open a best-of-three series at Tampa Bay or Cleveland on Friday, with all three games on the road.
Seattle has three games left against Detroit, including a doubleheader Tuesday.
Bryan Garcia (2-0), making his fourth start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Toledo before the game, struck out six over 6 2/3 innings with two walks.
Seattle star Julio Rodríguez, back from a trip to the injured list caused by a lower back strain, played designated hitter and likely will be in center for one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader.
He hit a 110.1 mph single up the middle leading off the first, advanced when Ty France was hit by a pitch and tied the score at 1 when he moved up a base on flyouts by Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suárez.
Rodríguez dropped another hit between three fielders in the third inning and cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI single in the seventh against José Cisnero.
Cisnero struck out France to end the threat and the Tigers held on for their 11th win in 13 games.
Seattle rookie George Kirby (8-5), bidding for a postseason start, allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in four innings. Kirby entered with the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio by a rookie since 1900 at 6.74.
Akil Baddoo walked leading off, stole second and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s two-out single. Riley Greene walked with two outs in the third and Báez hit a two-run homer for a 3-1 lead.
Victor Reyes extended the lead with an RBI single in the fourth that bounced out of right fielder Mitch Haniger’s glove on a tough shoe-top scoop attempt.
Adam Frazier had two hits for the Mariners and drove in a run.
Seattle optioned infielder Abraham Toro to Triple-A Tacoma. Toro is expected to join a group of players in the Mariners system currently working out in Arizona in case they are needed during the playoffs. Seattle also reinstated catcher Curt Casali from the paternity list and optioned catcher Brian O’Keefe to Tacoma.
Luis Castillo is in line to start the wild-card opener.
“He’s got all the intangibles, plus the stuff and he likes pitching in big games and this is going to be a big game,” Servais said. “I say all that and we can’t get too far down the road. We got four games left to play.”
Tigers: LHP Tarik Skubal is with the team in Seattle as he recovers from surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his left arm. Skubal has not pitched since Aug. 1 and underwent surgery in mid-August. But Skubal played his college ball at Seattle University and the Tigers wanted to have him around the team for a little bit at the end of the season.
“He’s such a big part of our of our culture and our presence and we miss him on the field, obviously, but it’s gonna be a while,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But it’s good to see a familiar face and get him back in a team environment.”
Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5, 4.02 ERA) starts the first game. Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.14) starts the opener and RHP Chris Flexen (8-9, 3.64) the nightcap. Gonzales has lost three straight decisions.
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