Seattle Mariners: So we’re telling you there’s a chance, kinda…
Now that any playoff hopes the Mariners had have seemingly died, the team is playing its most competent baseball since the beginning of July. Go figure.
The Mariners are 6-4 over their last 10 games, including a 5-2 run in a pair of road matchups with the Angels and Astros. In that time, they’ve outscored opponents 33-19 and have looked like the dominant club they appeared to be in the first three months of the season.
Unfortunately, this is all very likely to be too little, too late. But let’s throw all logic out the window and hang out to a false sense of a hope, because the Mariners are still not technically eliminated from the playoff race.
The Mariners currently sit at 84-68, seven games behind the 91-61 Athletics for the second wild card.
At worst, the Mariners can only afford to lose three of their final 10 games to give themselves a chance to force a one-game playoff with Oakland. Of course, this is contingent upon the Athletics dropping all of their final 10 games of the season as well, which, uh, is not happening.
There is also the other extreme in which the Athletics go 3-7 and the Mariners go 10-0. That’s probably more likely than the first option, but still not very realistic.
The more middle-of-the-road result would see the Mariners go 9-1 while the A’s go 2-8. Still, very hard to imagine but probably the most reasonable of the three options. So, how do we get there?
Both teams have fairly easy schedules ahead, with their only tough remaining matchup against one another. Outside of that series, the Mariners face the Rangers seven times and the A’s face the Angels four times and the Twins three times.
It goes without saying that the Mariners would absolutely have to sweep the A’s to keep hope alive. That’s assuming the M’s are not already eliminated by a poor series in Texas and a few Twins losses in Oakland.
If they’re able to get as far as making it out of that series mathematically alive, things get very interesting. The A’s will then enter what is expected to be Mike Scoscia’s last series in the Angels’ dugout, setting the stage for an unlikely competitive matchup.
Meanwhile, the Mariners will be at home to wrap up their regular season against the lowly Rangers. If everything goes according to plan up to that point, the M’s will carry a bit of momentum into that series and hopefully take advantage of a poor opponent.
But all of this isn’t as simple as “Mariners win, A’s lose,” unfortunately. The Mariners not only trail the A’s, but the Tampa Bay Rays as well. As of September 20, the Rays are five-and-a-half games behind the A’s. Therefore, the Mariners will also need the Rays to lose three of their final 11 games in this scenario, though that isn’t such a tough ask in the grand scheme of things.
Still, a lot has to go right. A lot.
In reality, the Mariners will likely be eliminated from playoff contention before the A’s even step foot in Safeco Field. If not, the A’s will surely handle the Mariners themselves.
At the very least, it’s something to keep an eye on. All hope isn’t necessarily lost, but it’s flickering out more than it’s flickering back in.
Baseball, however, is a hope-driven league and some teams have overcome the greatest obstacles the sport could ever present. The Mariners have been quite the unfortunate bunch the last two-and-a-half months, so an abundance of luck suddenly falling into their lap is simply unimaginable.
But maybe, just maybe, things are about to change, and an unlikely, magical story is about to blossom in front of our eyes.