The Seattle Mariners were eliminated from postseason contention in the middle of the game because of Oakland's victory over Texas. And with the Angels playing for nothing other than avoiding rust ahead of their AL division series against Kansas City or the Athletics on Thursday, McDonald's ninth-inning RBI double became the biggest highlight since it could be his final regular season game.
"It's a good feeling being able to get one more hit and whatever after this brings, it might have more meaning later," McDonald said.
McDonald's RBI double was the only run for the Angels in their 4-1 loss to Seattle, getting swept in their final series of the regular season after they already clinched the best record in the major leagues.
McDonald has played parts of 16 seasons for eight different franchises. The 40-year-old did not say it was his final regular season game but the Angels (98-64) were treating it as such. His teammates gave him an ovation at the top of the dugout steps after his double, and manager Mike Scioscia joked they were viewing it as a home run.
"I have the upcoming weeks and maybe months to figure all that out. Something you figure out in time. You don't make any knee jerk reactions or decisions," McDonald said. "The game is funny. You never know where it takes you or when it doesn't take you anywhere. You just have to play it out."
Felix Hernandez threw five shutout innings to secure the AL ERA title. Seattle started the day needing a win over the AL West champion plus an Oakland loss at Texas to force a one-game playoff on Monday for the AL's second wild card. The Mariners did their part with Hernandez tossing a gem, but the A's completed a 4-0 victory as Seattle was in the fifth inning and finished one game ahead of the Mariners.
Seattle's 87 wins in the first season of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano were its most since 2007 and made September baseball relevant in the Pacific Northwest for the first time in a decade. Hernandez (15-6) had a 2.14 ERA, bettering the 2.17 of Chicago's Chris Sale.
"To be able to play 162 games and every single one of them mean something, you can't ask for much more than that," Seattle's Dustin Ackley said.
Cory Rasmus (3-2) threw three innings and allowed one run before giving way to the Angels bullpen. Most of the Angels starters were resting on the bench by the fifth inning.
The Angels continue to wait on the playoff availability of RHP Matt Shoemaker and his recovery from an oblique injury. Shoemaker threw a bullpen session on Sunday morning and will be evaluated on Monday.
"(He) was lights out. Absolutely no restrictions," Scioscia said. "Hopefully he comes out of it well tomorrow and we'll see about working out on Tuesday and what he might need to do."
Sunday was about scoreboard watching with the Mariners needing help. Oakland already had a 2-0 lead when Hernandez threw his first pitch at 1:10 p.m. PDT. Fans at Safeco Field let out a collective groan and a smattering of boos when the A's took a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning and the crowd was updated on the out-of-town scoreboard. A brief "Let's go Texas!" chant started in the fifth inning with Hernandez on the mound but died off quickly.
At 2:46 p.m. PDT, the A's closed out their victory in Texas and the Mariners playoff hopes were ended. The fans at Safeco Field responded with a brief standing ovation in the middle of Kendrys Morales' at-bat after the A's score was shown as final on the scoreboard.