ESPN’s Pérez: Mariners’ walkoff highlights importance of Crawford and Raleigh

Sep 29, 2023, 4:55 PM

Seattle Mariners...

Cal Raleigh of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with J.P. Crawford on Aug. 17, 2022. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

(Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners got a huge walkoff win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday, keeping their playoff hopes alive as they enter the final three games of the season.

Crawford walks off Rangers in 9th as Seattle Mariners boost playoff hopes

Shortstop J.P. Crawford hit a walkoff two-run double to left field with two outs in the ninth inning, scoring catcher Cal Raleigh and utility man Dylan Moore.

Can that kind of win carry over into the remaining games? ESPN analyst and former MLB player and coach Eduardo Pérez joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Friday to discuss that and much more.

“You hope that you can believe in it. If you are the Texas Rangers, you don’t believe in it after last night. If you’re the Seattle Mariners, absolutely you have to at least buy into what happened yesterday,” Pérez said.

The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs down 2-1 in the ninth, but things got tense when Mike Ford and Josh Rojas both popped out, with neither able to drive the ball deep enough for Raleigh, who led off the inning with an opposite-field single, to try and score from third base.

Thankfully for the Mariners, Crawford came to the rescue.

“And then all of a sudden (there’s) that big 1-1 count and double over the left fielder’s head down the left field line,” Pérez said. “It just tells you the character that J.P. Crawford has been all season long for the Seattle Mariners, and it tells you how important Cal Raleigh is to the team, getting that given that streak started in that last inning. And especially for a team that had not had any come-from-behind wins in the ninth inning all year long, to be able to do it in a game where they needed to do it, they had to do it and they didn’t want Texas to celebrate there, you know what? It worked in a major way. They were 0-for-8 going into that at-bat and finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. My goodness, to be able to get that W is huge.”

Crawford and Raleigh being key cogs in that comeback win really stood out to Pérez. He especially highlighted Raleigh, who he thinks is one of the most important players on any contender in baseball.

“As much as all the limeight falls on Julio Rodríguez, and rightfully so, I think the heart and soul of this team is Cal Raleigh. And I said this on Sunday on SportsCenter, they asked me who is the guy that’s going to have carry a team to get them in (to the playoffs), and everybody thought I was gonna say Julio Rodríguez. And I said Cal Raleigh,” Pérez said. “Because he handles the pitching really well, he handles base running really well as well throwing out guys at a high clip. But most importantly being a switch-hitter and being able to get that big hit like he did yesterday against (Aroldis) Chapman and get the rally started, that played in a major way. But just the power he possesses from the left side … this guy can turn a game around with a 30 home runs. I think he’s a vital part of the success of the Seattle Mariners.”

“I love it when there’s more than one leader and there’s more than one guy that you want at the plate in a certain time. And this time yesterday, that was Cal starting it and it was J.P. closing it,” Pérez later added.

The Mariners continue their big series against the Rangers on Friday at T-Mobile Park. First pitch is set for 7:10, and all the action will air live on Seattle Sports and the Seattle Sports app.

The podcast of Pérez’s conversation with Wyman and Bob will be added to this story when it’s made available.

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ESPN’s Pérez: Mariners’ walkoff highlights importance of Crawford and Raleigh