Yesterday was very encouraging.
The Mariners had an opportunity to win a series against the Astros, and the Mariners made good on that opportunity. James Paxton led the way with his seven strong innings, giving up 1 run on 6 hits and 1 walk, with 7 strikeouts, to run his record to 9-3. Ben Gamel got back on the trolley with a 2-run homer, Jean Segura had 2 more hits, and Mike Zunino had an RBI double. Vincent and Scrabble got through the eighth inning unscathed, and Edwin Diaz got his fifth save since the All Star Break (or, his 5th save in 6 days, if we want to be more accurate).
This sets up the Mariners very well going forward. At 48-48, we’re still 15.5 games behind the Astros, but we’re back to 1.5 games back in the Wild Card chase. And, as chance would have it, we come home to play 4 games against the team currently residing in that 2nd Wild Card spot, the New York Yankees (who haven’t won a series since June 9th-11th against Baltimore, so on the one hand we’re catching them at the right time, but on the other hand watch them sweep us right out of the race).
There are some interesting (to me) numbers as we head into our last homestand before August. The victory against Houston – while bringing us back to .500 – put us at +1 in run differential. So, really, there isn’t a whole lotta good or bad luck at play here in that regard. The 5-1 road trip also brought the Mariners to 21-26 on the year, which is a little more appropriate (and a far cry from how terrible we started out). Also, through 96 games last year, the Mariners were 49-47. I can’t tell you if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I can tell you that at this time last year, the Mariners never fell below .500 the rest of the way. Remember, those Mariners ended up 10 games over .500 and were 3 games back in the Wild Card race. I know this year it looks pretty grim in the American League, and that a not-so-great team or two might squeak into the post-season, but I’m also a firm believer that at least a couple teams (not necessarily named the Astros or Red Sox) are going to go on a run, and it’s going to take a record right around 90 wins to get into this thing. For the Mariners, they’d have to go 42-24 the rest of the way to get to that point.
I could be wrong, and the A.L. could remain mediocre the rest of the way, but I’m not going to hold my breath. The time to strike is right fucking now.
The rest of the way, the Mariners play 7 games against the Yankees, 3 against the Red Sox, 4 against the Royals, 6 against the Orioles, 3 against the Rays, 3 against the Indians, 10 against the Rangers, and 10 against the Angels. 46 of our 66 remaining games are against teams right there in the thick of the playoff hunt (not counting the Astros, who are just in, no questions asked; though if you’re asking, we play them only 6 more times thank Christ). 46 games against our direct competition; we are going to have to MOW through those teams in a big way if we want to be in there at the end!
It starts with Felix tonight, then continues with our three worst starters the rest of the weekend. Yippie skippy doo.