Are the Mariners actually chasing the Astros?

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 17: Utility infielder Andrew Romine #7 of the Seattle Mariners and third baseman Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners joke as they walk off the field after Romine pitched the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field on August 17, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Dodgers won the game 11-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 17: Utility infielder Andrew Romine #7 of the Seattle Mariners and third baseman Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners joke as they walk off the field after Romine pitched the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field on August 17, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Dodgers won the game 11-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The Athletics’ 39-13 run since June 15 has been simultaneously remarkable and annoying to witness as a Mariners fan. After defeating the Astros last night, the A’s are just one game out of the division lead. However, that may not be such a bad thing.

The Astros have fallen into the dark pit of injury despair, playing the majority of the last month without George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers Jr. Correa is back, but that hasn’t changed the Astros’ fortunes.

Suddenly, what once was considered an insurmountable lead atop the AL West now hangs by a thread. The A’s are one game out, with the Mariners right behind at four-and-a-half, and the Astros continue to lose.

Houston’s woes don’t stop at the injuries, however. While the starting pitching has been good since the All-Star break, it hasn’t been the dominant force it was prior. Charlie Morton has an xFIP hanging around 4.00 and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander have had some poor starts sprinkled in here and there.

If this is an indication that the Astros’ big three have regressed, even if slightly, that makes them vulnerable. It’s one of the reasons the Mariners were able to sweep them in four games last weekend.

Of course, all of these struggles will likely fade away once their stars return. Springer was activated yesterday and Altuve doesn’t appear too far off either. But once the Astros find health, they may have a hole to dig themselves out of.

So, where does this leave the Mariners? Well, there’s an opportunity to be had here.

The Mariners are still in the playoff conversation because they pocketed so many wins in the early months of the season. Creating such a cushion afforded them the ability to melt down in the fashion they have and still be in the heat of the playoff race.

Obviously, a similar run would be beneficial now for multiple reasons. The main one being the ability to pick up ground on the wounded Astros and cushion yourself for the Astros’ resurgence.

The Mariners see the Astros again this week, so Seattle truly controls their own destiny. A series win would do wonders, and another sweep could change everything.

For Seattle, evening things up with Houston allows them to hang around until the two teams meet for the last time in mid-September. All the Mariners can ask for at this point is a chance, and the Astros are giving them one right now.

Considering how well the A’s have played, this may be the Mariners’ best shot to get into the playoffs.

There are 39 games left in the season, so there’s still plenty of baseball to be played and many scenarios in which the Mariners end up playing October baseball.

While the Mariners have been consistently bad this Summer, they’re still one good week away from reclaiming their playoff spot. Baseball is a streaky game and the Mariners have been a streaky team; in short, they’re due to get hot, and hopefully while the A’s and/or Astros simultaneously stumble.

All I ask is that they make it interesting. This team has shown a lot of fight this year, so witnessing them go quietly in the night doesn’t feel like a true possibility. For how they’ve played as of late, I have a fear that could happen, though.

But the best things in life are on the other side of fear.

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