The M’s clobbered the Astros 12-4 yesterday, improving their record to 84-74. That follows on the heels of Tuesday’s clank job, losing 8-4 after surrendering four unearned runs on a pair of errors in the sixth inning, losing ground to the Tigers, and failing to advance on the Orioles.
So the M’s head home to face the A’s, having kicked dirt in the face of the Astros on their home field. Four games to play, and they pretty much have to win them all. The Orioles beat the Jays 3-2, and Detroit beat the Indians in a rain-shortened game, 6-3. The Mariners remain two games behind the O’s for the second wild card spot, with the Tigers loitering in between, a game ahead of them.
The M’s find themselves ten games over .500. It is the high water mark of their season. Again. The M’s reached this point on May 25th, August 20th, September 14th, September 26th, and September 28th. On the first three occasions, the mark was followed by long bouts of losing-enough for some Mariners fans to lose hope (sniff.) Though the August 26th game was followed by a loss, followed by a win, who knows what will happen tomorrow.
What’s more, the game following each of the zenith days was awful. May 27th was a terrible drubbing by the hapless Twins, with Felix giving up six runs and ending up on the DL. August 21st was the day the M’s took a three run lead over the Brewers into the 9th inning only to have Tom Wilhelmsen melt down and Nori Aoki watch a fly ball drop at his feet for a two run double. M’s lose 7-6. September 14th the M’s rode an eight game win streak into Safeco Field, only to be two hit by Collin McHugh and the Astros. They also made three errors and Felix struggled. M’s lose 6-0. September 26th was another start by the King. He cruised into the sixth leading the Astros 4-2 when errors by Ketel Marte and Adam Lind sabotaged the game, allowing four unearned runs. M’s lose 8-4
So what’s the deal? What’s the magic in the ten win barrier? Is it just coincidence, lack of confidence, or the Mariners buying press that they’re just not good? Each of the losses following that number ten have featured some aspect of Mariners woes emblematic of the wild 2016 season. An inconsistent King, defensive lapses, and bullpen catastrophe.
What’s clear, however, is if the Mariners are to have a shot at the playoffs they can’t settle in at 86-76. They have to win all their games against the A’s, and get a little help to boot. On Monday, the M’s could look back on these post ten win days and simply cringe.
With my fingers crossed: Go M’s. Beat Oakland