With a win on Saturday night in Oakland, the Mariners season hangs in the balance pending the outcome of Sunday’s matchup with the Athletics.
But is Sunday’s game really that important for the Mariners? Yes. Here’s why:
After Saturday’s win, the Mariners have 26 games remaining to catch the A’s in the Wild Card race. They trail Oakland by 4.5 games, but the outcome of Sunday’s game will shift the standings a full game in either direction. The game will directly impact Seattle’s chances of seeing their first postseason berth since 2001.
With a win Sunday, the Mariners would be 3.5 games back with 25 to play. With a loss, they would fall to 5.5 back. Though it sounds obvious, overcoming a 3.5 game deficit would be much easier of a task. 2 possible outcomes on Sunday leaves two outlooks for the Mariner fan base.
If the Mariners lose Sunday, I would tell fans to begin the process of grieving over another year without postseason baseball in Seattle. Trust me – as an optimistic fan, I have held out hope that ‘this is our year!’ However, a loss on Sunday would plunge my Mariner fandom into the abyss.
It pains me to give up, but it is hard to imagine the red-hot A’s giving 5.5 games worth of ground in a 25-game span. They trailed Seattle by 11 games in the postseason race on June 16, but have gone 47-20 in the time since. To lose a playoff spot with such a cushion would require a collapse equal to Seattle’s slump since early July.
The theoretical nosedive Oakland would endure is more of a long shot considering their remaining schedule. Though they face the Yankees for a three-game set this week, they have yet to play 12 games versus sub-.500 teams. The Mariners have 15 such games, but still, have another road trip to Houston later this month after facing the Yankees in Seattle this weekend.
With series against the Orioles, Twins, and Rangers, the Mariners would be foolish to expect anything expects a winning record in the month of September for the Oakland Athletics.
Let’s say the Mariners win Sunday. They will have finished playing baseball in Oakland for the 2018 season. Though Seattle will face the A’s three more times this month, it will be in front of their home crowd at Safeco Field.
Overcoming a deficit of 3.5 games is doable. Taking 3 of 4 in Oakland gives your players momentum heading into a homestand where a sweep versus the Orioles is a necessity. Not only is a comeback from 3.5 games attainable, your fanbase holds out hope. It gives your players hope.
Sunday is more than another game. It’s your entire season.