Smith, Iannetta know thrill of late playoff berth

Players were part of Rockies' improbable '07 run

Smith, Iannetta know thrill of late playoff berth

SEATTLE -- As the Mariners attempt to become the first Major League team to come from two back with three games to go to claim a postseason berth since 2007, they have two players with first-hand knowledge of how that indeed can happen.

Right fielder Seth Smith and catcher Chris Iannetta were both rookies on the '07 Rockies team that won 14 of its last 15 regular-season games, then a 13-inning tiebreaker with the Padres to claim a Wild Card spot before advancing all the way to the World Series.

• Wild Card standings

"Definitely anything is possible," said Iannetta, who played 67 games that season as a backup to Yorvit Torrealba. "Down the stretch that year, it was pretty crazy. We were very far back and we won a lot of games in a row and we didn't gain any ground for a long time. Then right at the end, it started getting close and we ended up losing that Friday and were two back with two to play. Then we won Saturday and Sunday and San Diego lost both games and we won a play-in game."

Iannetta's two-run double

The 1962 Giants and '99 Mets also came from two back with three games to play to earn postseason berths.

The '95 Mariners are famous for their late run to the playoffs, coming from 12 1/2 games back on Aug. 20 to win the AL West. But that club actually had a two-game lead with two to play before losing twice to the Rangers to force a tiebreaker with the Angels.

Smith was a late-season callup by the Rockies in '07, but he remembers the feeling of that late run.

"That was a little different because it was three weeks of having to win every game, so you felt it kind of building," he said.

The Mariners have played well down the stretch, winning 16 of their last 22 going into Saturday's game with the A's. They are tied with Boston for the best record in the Majors in that span. Ideally every club would love to avoid such late dramatics, but it's far better than sitting out of contention for the final weeks.

"You want to be in this spot," Smith said. "You'd rather be winning the division, but here we are with [two] games left and a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. It's a fun spot to be in."

The Mariners had the Orioles' game against the Yankees on the big screen at Safeco Field while they were taking batting practice on Saturday and cheers went out from the gathered fans as the Yankees rallied late for a 7-3 win that kept Baltimore at 88-73, still within range of being tied by Seattle if the Mariners take their final two and the Orioles lose Sunday.

The Mariners are also within striking distance of Toronto and Detroit thanks to Friday's 5-1 win that left them one back of Toronto and a half-game back of Detroit with just two games left now.

"There are a lot of scenarios that we at least get to play some sort of tiebreaker game," Iannetta said. "Obviously we need help. But there's an opportunity for us. You have to do your part. You have to win. You lose any of these games, then all the speculation is for naught. So you do your job and win and hopefully those teams help out."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.