1995 American League West tie-breaker game

1995 American League West tie-breaker game

The by|1995 American League West tie-breaker game was a one-game playoff for Major League Baseball's AL West division championship, played on October 2, 1995 between the California Angels and Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome in Seattle. The game was necessitated due to both teams finishing the strike-shortened 144 game season with identical records of 78-66. Seattle won the game by a score of 9-1, securing its first playoff berth in franchise history.

Line score and summary

As per normal MLB practice, the home team for this game was determined by a series of coin tosses held near the end of the regular season to determine home teams for all potential one-game tiebreakers. Linescore|Date=October 2, 1995|Location=Kingdome, Seattle, Washington
WP=Randy Johnson (18-2)|LP=Mark Langston (15-7)|SV=
RoadHR= Tony Phillips (27)|HomeHR=|
The first six innings of the game were largely a pitchers' duel. Seattle put runners in scoring position in the first and fifth innings, but only scored one run in the fifth when Dan Wilson scored on a single by Vince Coleman. Seattle ace Randy Johnson was perfect until the 6th inning when Rex Hudler singled but was stranded at second.

Then Angels starter Mark Langston, who the Mariners traded to Montreal for Randy Johnson in by|1989, fell apart in the seventh inning. Langston allowed a single to Mike Blowers, then allowed Tino Martinez on base via fielder's choice, then hit Joey Cora to load the bases with two outs. Luis Sojo followed with a double to right field, scoring Blowers, Martinez, and Cora, then scoring himself on Langston's throwing error.

California, behind by five runs, threatened again in the 8th inning with runners on second and third, but Hudler grounded out to end the threat. In the bottom of the 8th, the Mariners again had the bases loaded when Tino Martinez singled to score Edgar Martinez, followed by a Dan Wilson double that scored Jay Buhner and Blowers, and finally a sacrifice fly double play hit by Cora that scored Tino Martinez but got Buhner thrown out at third. California led off the top of the 9th with a Tony Phillips home run to avoid the shutout, but Johnson retired the next three Angels hitters to record his sixth complete game and 18th win of the season.


Prior to 1995

Both teams entered the tiebreaker with long histories of frustration and disappointment. California had won the AL West division title on 3 occasions (1979, 1982, and 1986), but failed to advance to the World Series each time. In particular, the Angels blew a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five 1982 ALCS to the Milwaukee Brewers, and were one strike away from defeating the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS but ended up losing that game and the next two to lose the best-of-seven series that they had led 3-1. They had not returned to the postseason since the 1986 loss.

Seattle, on the other hand, had only had two winning seasons since the franchise began play in by|1977 (1991 and 1993), and had never been to the postseason. The team had gone through three ownership changes in its first 15 years, its most recent coming in by|1992 when a consortium led by Hiroshi Yamauchi, which owns the Mariners to the present day, bought the team from Jeff Smulyan, who had threatened to relocate the team as a consequence of its losing ways.

1995 season

California took an early lead in the AL West standings and traded first place with Texas through May and June. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CAL/1995_sched.shtml 1995 California Angels Schedule, Box Scores and Splits] ] They took the lead on July 2, and held on to that lead throughout the rest of July and all of August. Seattle, meanwhile, spent most of June through August in third or fourth place. They would bottom out on August 2, 13 games out of first place. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/SEA/1995_sched.shtml 1995 Seattle Mariners Schedule, Box Scores and Splits] ] The Angels' fortunes began to change when they were swept by Boston from August 21-23, then after winning one game over Baltimore, went into a 9-game losing streak beginning August 25. Seattle had an August record of 16-13 (.552), while California had an August record of 13-17 (.433). Seattle took second place on September 2, with Texas in a losing streak it would never recover from. [ [http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TEX/1995_sched.shtml 1995 Texas Rangers Schedule, Box Scores, and Splits] ]

Then in September, California went into a second 9-game skid from September 13-23, allowing Seattle to take first place on September 22 in the middle of their own 7-game winning streak. California sank to 3 games out of first place with 5 games left in the season, but won those last 5 games while Seattle lost 3 of their last 5 games, forcing the tiebreaker.


The Angels' defeat in the tiebreaker marked a continuation of the team's struggles at the time. It was the closest the Angels would come to reaching the postseason during their playoff drought that lasted from by|1986 to by|2002, when they won the AL Wild Card and ultimately the World Series.

The game was a stepping stone in what is widely regarded in Seattle as the most memorable season in Mariners franchise history. Having secured their first ever postseason berth, the Mariners went on to play the New York Yankees in the first American League Division Series played under the present-day format. They would defeat the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS, on the heels of Edgar Martinez' game-winning double, but ultimately were defeated by the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series.

The game marked the beginning of the most successful era in Seattle franchise history, as they would go on to win AL West division championships again in 1997 and 2001, and an AL Wild Card berth in 2000. However, they failed to reach the World Series each time and remain one of four MLB franchises to never reach the Fall Classic.

Off the field, the Mariners' AL West championship as well as its memorable run in the postseason served as a catalyst for public funding for a new ballpark. Less than two weeks before the tiebreaker, the residents of King County, Washington (whose county seat is Seattle) voted against a sales tax increase to fund a new stadium, but shortly after their ALDS victory, the Washington State Legislature reconvened and approved a separate funding package for a new stadium. The new stadium, now called Safeco Field, opened in July 1999.

The two franchises' fortunes were reversed beginning in by|2002 and continuing to the present day, as the Angels rose to the most successful era in "their" history by winning the aforementioned World Series and four division titles while the Mariners returned to the bottom of the division standings for most of those years (the only exceptions being in by|2003 and by|2007, when they finished second).


External links

* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SEA/SEA199510020.shtml Box score at baseball-reference.com]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.