Groz Remembers the 2001 Mariners: 116-win M’s survive Cleveland in ALDS
2001: A Baseball Odyssey – a weekly look back at the record-setting 2001 Mariners and the players who made them who they were.
The Playoffs: American League Division Series
So the Mariners had won 116 games, but in the aftermath of 9/11 there was not the feeling of joy, I guess, that you would normally expect.
Though they kept winning, the Mariners didn’t have the same feel as they had pre-9/11. It’s hard to describe but anyone who was around then knows what I mean.
Seattle’s first-round opponent was its old nemesis from the 1995 postseason, a Cleveland team that still had key players like Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel left over from six years before. One guy who was not on that team was 28-year-old fireballer Bartolo Colón, who shocked the Safeco Field faithful in Game 1 of the ALDS by handcuffing the M’s over eight innings in an easy 5-1 Indians victory.
In Game 2, it was Jamie Moyer and the Mariners’ turn to shut down the Tribe 5-1, and the series was on to Cleveland for a shocking Game 3.
The M’s drew a bases-loaded walk against rookie CC Sabathia in the first to take an early lead, but they didn’t score again till the seventh. In between, the Indians piled up 13 runs, and for good measure they added five in the eighth to crush Seattle 17-2 and put the Mariners on the brink of a huge upset loss in the series.
Facing elimination on a Sunday afternoon, the Mariners first had to sit out a two-hour rain delay. M’s ace Freddy García gave up a leadoff homer to Juan Gonzales in the second inning, and the game stood at 1-0 Cleveland with just nine outs to go for Seattle. Fortunately, some clutch hitting by Ichiro and Mark McLemore led to a three-run Mariners seventh, and they went on to win 6-2 to force the clincher in Seattle.
In a pressure-packed fifth game, the M’s got a great performance from Moyer and gutted out a 3-1 win to clinch the series despite a minus-10 in run differential. (Sound familiar?)
Up next, the World Series was on the line against the Yankees, with the hearts and minds of the nation remaining focused on New York as smoke still smoldered at Ground Zero.
More 2001 Mariners memories from Groz
• “The Bone” Jay Buhner sends out his last HRs
• Carlos Guillén takes over at SS after ARod leaves
• Seattle’s special moment after baseball’s post-9/11 return
• On Sept. 10, M’s were still doing what they did best
• Hometown hero John Olerud’s big year
• Solid and steady David Bell
• Mike Cameron pulls off the impossible
• Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mariners’ man of mystery
• The infamous Cleveland comeback
• When Ichiro became Ichiro
• The curious case of Al Martin
• Freddy García replaces the ace he was traded for
• Kaz Sasaki and Seattle’s incredible bullpen
• Seattle hosts an All-Star Game for the ages
• The bounceback year of M’s Hall of Famer Dan Wilson
• Mark McLemore, the all-important 10th man
• Edgar Martinez cements his legacy with his last great season
• Aaron Sele, the pitcher who ‘fell from the sky’
• Bret Boone gave Seattle a huge, surprising boost
• Paul Abbott, the forgotten hero of the historic ’01 M’s
• Introduction: Celebrating the 2001 Mariners, 20 years later