The Mariners are at 78-68 a game and a half behind Toronto in the Wild Card chase. What does this mean?
- To get there the M’s won their last eight games, a season-longest win streak. It’s good to be in a playoff chase when you’re hot.
- With last night’s 2-1 nail biter over the Angels the M’s once again move to 10 games above .500 tying the season’s high marks achieved May 25th and August 20th.
- With 78 wins, the M’s already surpassed last season’s dismal 76 win total with 16 games left to play.
The Mariners clearly have big mo’ on their side as they are coming down the home stretch. Their road sweeps of the wretched A’s and vile Angels disposes of two “must beat” foes. With 16 games remaining, it seems to me they must win at least ten of those to have a shot at the playoffs.
But with an off day, the M’s can just kick back and see who’s doing what to whom. Just home from school, I see the Tigers have already been rubbed out by the disrespectful Twins. that does two important things: 1) eases the Mariners into a tie with Detroit, the last team in front of them on the road to the Wild Card, and 2) reminds us that the Twins, crappy as they may be, have been poisonous to many good teams, including the Mariners over Memorial Day weekend.
On this off day there are reasons for optimism.
Rotation health-Except for the Tai Walker’s September 8th start against Texas, starters have gone at least six inning. In that game, still sorting out his new mechanics, Walker still managed five. With a stable five running out to the mound, and taking care of business, the bullpen is rested and effective. Walker and Ariel Miranda continue to improve their games. A team can’t have too much pitching in a pennant race. This is a mark in the team’s favor.
The schedule-With the completed west coast trip, the M’s are down to only six more road games. Good news for the M’s. For the first time since 2009, they have a much better home than road record. Though the M’s were 41-40 at Safeco in 2014, they’ve simply struggled to take advantage of their home park. On the strength of their sweep, the M’s own a 38-37 road record, but with a 40-31 score at home, I like their chances. Further, the teams left to play, either aren’t very good or aren’t playing very well presently. The A’s are terrible, six games worth of terrible. The Blue Jays are still holding the second wild card, but just aren’t winning right now. The Astros are the M’s next opponent, have faltered over their past ten games, and received tough injury news that MVP favorite Jose Altuve has a lat issue and may not play in Seattle. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman also left Wednesday’s game with a hamstring. It’s a tough time to develop injuries, but I’ll take it. That just leaves the Twins, and they have been giant-killers (actually Rangers, Indians, and Mariner killers,) but I am relying on their fundamental badness, and that Seattle may be anointed by God to win this thing.
The core + more-Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager continue to put runs on the board, but we’re at one of those moments when others in the lineup are really chipping in and we see it in the box score. Mike Zunino is a warmish .286/.375/.786 with two home runs and four RBI’s over the past 7 days. Facing a bevy of right handed pitching, Seth Smith has gotten plenty of recent playing time and in the last 8 games hit .286/..355/.643 with three homers and 6 RBI’s. Nori Aoki and Leonys Martin have also hit well recently. Others have added when they can, but it’s been nice to see the offense as more of a team travail.
Yes, things look good from my deck chair on this lovely off day. The Tigers and Royals have lost. The Orioles are losing to the lowly Rays. I’m waiting on the Blue Jays-Angels game. to start in L.A. The Yankees stole a march on the idle M’s with a win over Boston. My fingers are carefully crossed as I follow through on a December promise to sit in The King’s Court at tomorrow’s game against the Astros. Yes this could all be nothing but hope, starlight and swamp gas, but go M’s, and let’s win this thing.