The champagne flew, and the music blared.
The vibes were certainly, unquestionably, undeniably, good.
The drought was over.
Cal Raleigh etched his name into Seattle baseball history forever, launching a pinch-hit, two-out homer to walk off Friday’s series opener with Oakland.
It sent Seattle to the postseason for the first time since 2001, and it was the first pinch-hit, walk-off home run to send any team to the postseason in MLB history.
Robbie Ray, standing inside Seattle’s clubhouse, held back tears. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, considering the beverages that flew overhead.
“When Cal Raleigh hit that walk off, I’ve never heard a stadium (louder) than that,” Ray said. He was Seattle’s marquee signing after the Mariners fell short in 2021, and Ray, the reigning AL Cy Young winner with Toronto, remembers watching Seattle sell out three consecutive crowds in its final homestand.
“When Cal stepped to the plate, I told myself it’s over. He’s gonna end it. ... When he hit it, I was just saying out loud, ‘Stay fair! Stay fair! Stay fair!’ It was just a really, really cool feeling.”
The encore lasted minutes. Chants echoed throughout the concourses and neighboring streets even longer. Manager Scott Servais and the team reentered the playing field after a team celebration with champagne and cigars -- a party two decades overdue.
“Every day, when the game starts, I look up at those banners,” Servais said, before pausing. “We need to add another one.”
Here are more player reactions from the clubhouse after Friday’s postseason-clinching win:
C Cal Raleigh -- “It’s not really a pressure moment. You’re playing baseball. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it.
“It was the craziest thing ever,” Raleigh said of scoring the winning run that sent Seattle to the playoffs. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that moment.”
SP Logan Gilbert -- “I just wanted to (give) us a chance to win,” he said, fresh off the first eight-inning outing of his career.
Gilbert surrendered only three hits and one earned run in Friday’s clinch game, walking two and striking out four. “It was a close ballgame the whole time. Like Robbie (Ray) said, that’s Mariners baseball. We found a way to win.
“(Chris) Flexen, I think, is just following me around with beer and pouring it on my head,” Gilbert added, laughing. “I’m trying to stay away.
On Raleigh’s game-winner: “I cheer for (Cal) like it’s me playing out there.”
SS J.P. Crawford -- “You can’t script that any better. This is us. One-run ball games. This is who we are.
“This is something we’ll never forget. We’re going to remember everyone’s face in this clubhouse, and how this year. All the bad, and all of the good. Cherish it all, and it all leads to this moment right here.”
RP Matt Brash -- “This is the coolest (expletive) ever,” he said, minutes after posting a clean ninth and earning the win. “Me coming out there in the ninth... the crowd, everybody, it was surreal. I just felt like the walk-off was gonna happen. When Cal got up there, everyone kind of knew.
“You can just see the emotion from everybody. It’s been a long time. ... I just can’t wait for the playoffs.”
OF Jesse Winker -- “It’s amazing. It’s been a special year for a lot of guys in here, especially Cal Raleigh. I think he’s proven himself to be the best, if not, one of the best catchers in our game. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. It was a beautiful swing... the perfect script.
“You just want to come in and do your part. There’s a lot of guys that have been here, obviously, a lot longer than me. And it’s cool just watching them celebrate this. It’s a big moment for the city of Seattle, and I’m happy.”
1B Ty France -- “That’s Seattle Mariner baseball this year. It’s what we’ve done. Logan came out, pitched his (butt) off, and we came out and put up just enough runs.
“As soon as he hit it, I think everyone was out of the dugout ready to tackle him. You can’t write it any better.”
3B Eugenio Suarez -- “It can’t be better than this. That was big-time. I’m so happy seeing (Cal’s) homer. I’m so proud of him. He’s been fighting every at-bat.
“When I first got here, (the team) gave me that comfort. ... I feel so grateful to be a part of this team. From the beginning and now, we never gave up. ... We did it for all of the Seattle fans. They deserve it. They’ve been waiting a long time.”
OF Jarred Kelenic -- “We came into this year (knowing) we had a dangerous team. (The playoffs were) our expectation. We’re not surprised. We’re coming in here, playing our game Doing everything that we can, taking it one day at a time, one pitch at a time.”
SP Marco Gonzales -- “Special, the entire night. Credit to the ballpark ops, because they brought the energy tonight.”
President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto -- “I think now, they can just go out and be themselves -- the 2022 Mariners. They’re a young group. They weren’t here or responsible for most of this drought, so they got to break somebody else’s issues, and now go forge something of their own.”
Manager Scott Servais -- “We’re not fun to watch some nights. But that’s baseball. You never know what’s going to happen.
“I can’t say enough about this group. ... Mariners baseball has been happening for 46 years. We’re the fifth team to make it in the playoffs. It’s hard to make it in the playoffs. I don’t want it to be that long again.”