The Mariners are navigating through a terrible September, only winning one series this month. The good news is a record-setting August allowed the team to bank a few wins. The playoffs are still in reach, and it all starts with a crucial three-game set with the Oakland Athletics. No, the A's aren't suddenly a good team, but they did go into Houston and win two of three just last week.
Right now, the Mariners need to perform better. The pitching and offense are suboptimal right now. It's time to turn the narrative and snatch a few more victories, mainly since the final stretch includes three games with the Astros and seven with the Rangers. The torture of meaningful September baseball is in full effect. From a Mariners' perspective, here's who you should root for this week.
Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers
The Red Sox fired their General Manager, Chaim Bloom, and lost a winnable series in Toronto. The latter effectively buried them in the wildcard chase (8.5 GB). But here we are, rooting for the Beantown-based team to handle business. The Rangers have their three most experienced starters, Jordan Montgomery, Nate Eovaldi, and Jon Gray, scheduled to take the bump. However, there is reason for optimism.
In July, the Red Sox won two of three against a then-juggernaut Rangers team. Additionally, they provide a unique challenge in their heavy and successful platoon lineup—for example, Justin Turner and Adam Duvall mash southpaws. Yoshida Masataka, Connor Wong, and Alex Verdugo perform significantly better against righties.
Alex Cora should have his team up for the task, and Mariner fans should be actively rooting for the Red Sox.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros
The Orioles already clinched their spot in the playoffs, and now it is all about seeding. With the surging Tampa Bay Rays on their heels, manager Brandon Hyde would want to be a few steps closer to landing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first-round bye.
As for the Astros, they've been scuffling as of late, losing two or three to those pesky Kansas City Royals. Their lack of proven post-season experience, minus future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, is looming large for manager Dusty Baker's squad.
From an offensive standpoint, the Orioles have the upper hand, with Houston taking the pitching advantage. Either way, a universe doesn't exist where I can feel good about pushing for Astro wins. Trash cans, bean balls, and on-the-field scuffles are all points of contention. Mariner fans should actively root for the team from Charm City, not Space City.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees
The Blue Jays are off an exciting but draining series against the free-falling Red Sox. This series is prime time for a letdown. Yankee's manager, Aaron Boone, is playing many of the young position players down the stretch, as he is probably the only one in New York who knows the Yanks are out of the playoff chase (7 GB). Prospects Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, and Oswaldo Cabrera are getting a lot of run, and that youth is a reason for optimism in this series.
Toronto is rolling out Yusei Kikuchi, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios, which makes for a formidable task for the Yankees. Despite a clear offensive advantage in this series starting pitching, the Yankees lead the season series 4-3. This week, it will be a high-intensity series in the Bronx between two bitter rivals.
This is what September baseball includes rooting for a few upsets. It's hard to type this, but Mariner fans should be all in on the Yankees this week.
Mariner fans should follow box scores in these matchups and should scream from the rooftops for the Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees over the next three days. However, don't forget about the hometown nine because there is a real chance to flip and concerning narrative tonight.