Seattle closes season rallying for 3-2 win over Oakland
SEATTLE (AP) Lloyd McClendon waved to the fans showing their appreciation behind the Seattle Mariners dugout then tossed his blue cap into the crowd.
Time will only tell if that's the final time the Seattle manager takes off a Mariners cap.
Seattle closed a disappointing season on Sunday beating the Oakland Athletics 3-2 thanks to Seth Smith's solo home run with two outs in the eighth. The homer allowed the Mariners to finish at 76-86, 11 games worse than McClendon's first season, when Seattle was in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season.
And therein is the biggest question with Seattle moving forward from an underachieving year when they were expected by many to be a playoff team. With new general manager Jerry Dipoto in charge, will McClendon return in 2016?
''This club is in a much better position now than the first day that I got here,'' McClendon said. ''There are a lot of good things going on with this club.''
Whether or not McClendon returns, the Mariners finished on a high after a mostly miserable final two weeks. Seattle lost nine of its final 11 games after getting back within three games of .500 on Sept. 22.
The Mariners now have the longest playoff drought in the major leagues - 14 years since their last postseason appearance.
''It doesn't matter how we look on paper, you have to go out there and perform,'' said Robinson Cano, who finished the season with a 16-game hitting streak despite playing the final two months with a sports hernia. ''You have to do your job.''
Smith's 12th homer of the season came off reliever Ryan Dull (1-2) and just eluded the leap of Sam Fuld in deep center field as Seattle avoided being swept in the final series of the season
Logan Kensing (2-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the victory and Tom Wilhelmsen struck out the side in the ninth for his 13th save, a night after blowing a save opportunity.
''We couldn't string anything together,'' Smith said. ''It wasn't that we were bad by any means, we just couldn't get on a hot streak. It seemed like we would win a couple, lose a couple, win one, lose one and that was kind of the script for most of the season.''
Mark Canha hit his 16th homer for Oakland, which was trying to complete its first sweep of three games or more since late June. The A's finished 68-94, their worst record since going 65-97 in 1997 and a 19-game drop from last season, when the A's earned the AL's second wild card with 88 wins. The A's finished with the worst record in the AL for the third time in Oakland history.
''It's not a good feeling to lose period, let alone another one-run loss,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Seattle drew 22,402 for the season finale and had a home season attendance of 2,193,581. That was up more than 100,000 from 2014 when the Mariners barely topped the 2 million mark.
Seattle starter Vidal Nuno struggled early but settled down to throw six strong innings. Nuno bounced between the bullpen and rotation for Seattle after being acquired as part of a trade from Arizona in June. He'll go to winter ball as a starter, but no defined role for next season yet.
NO HOME RUN CHAMP
Nelson Cruz did not play on Sunday after straining a groin muscle in the ninth inning of Saturday's loss. He missed out his final chance to catch Baltimore's Chris Davis for the major league lead in home runs. Cruz finished the season with 44 home runs, but failed to become the second Seattle player to lead baseball. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 homers in 1997 to lead the majors. The 44 homers are the most by any Seattle player since Griffey hit 48 in 1999.
Athletics: Oakland will open the 2016 season on April 4 hosting the Chicago White Sox.
Mariners: Seattle will travel to Texas to open the 2016 season.