The Mariners’ Magic Number Is Down To One

The excitement is palpable. It’s actually a really fun day today, everyone’s so happy and hopeful! A Mariners victory tonight over the A’s, or an Orioles loss this afternoon against the Yankees, and the Mariners will clinch a spot in the post-season for the first time since 2001. As has been belabored to death for as long as it’s been a fact: this is the longest active playoff drought in North American professional sports. And it’s FINALLY. FUCKING. OVER.

It’s especially beautiful for anyone who’s been a Mariners fan throughout, because it’s been so fucking hard to BE a fan. To support this team. This organization that has been among the most ineptly-run since its inception.

Today isn’t about that, though. It’s not about the past. It’s not about playoff positioning (for the record, we’re currently slotted in the second wild card spot – the one that would have to play the first round in Toronto – a half-game ahead of the Rays and a game and a half behind the Blue Jays). There will be time to bemoan our fate. But, for now, today is ONLY about the impending celebration that’s likely to take place at the end of the day.

How did we get here? Well, it’s been a whole lot of losing by Baltimore, for starters! But, also, we won a series! What a concept!

It didn’t look great on Tuesday, as the Rangers shut us out 5-0. Robbie Ray was okay (5.2 innings, 2 runs), but the offense was nowhere to be seen. Following that game, Scott Servais tried to settle everyone down by skipping batting practice the next two days, and so far it seems to be working.

On Wednesday, we won 3-1. George Kirby pitched 6 innings, giving up 1 run (nice bounce-back after a bad outing the last time around), and the bullpen was nails from there (with Andres Munoz being particularly nasty in his inning of work). We got a Suarez RBI double (3 for 3 on the day, with a walk) and a Haniger sac fly in the first. Then, Santana grounded out to score a run in the third.

Thursday was a different kind of Mariners Special, winning 10-9 in 11 innings. Marco wasn’t great (5 innings, 4 runs), but the offense showed up in spades. Haniger hit two homers. Kelenic hit two homers. That scored our first 7 runs and staked us to a 3-run lead heading into the seventh inning. Unfortunately, Paul Sewald got beat up pretty good, giving up two solo homers. Then, Munoz was forced to get four outs, and got touched up for a blown save in the 8th in the process.

We got it to extras, though, with each team scoring a ghost runner in the 10th. The Rangers also scored their ghost in the 11th to take a brief lead, but we got two runs in the bottom half to walk it off.

So, here’s the thing: I know I should be excited, and I am. But, also … I’m going to the game tomorrow, and I kinda want to BE there when the big moment happens. I want to be in a crowd full of maniacs as we explode in jubilation. There’s nothing like it. I was in the Kingdome when Heathcliff Slocumb locked down a save to put us into the playoffs in 1997, and it was probably the loudest fan experience of my life. As someone who’s slogged through these last 21 years of Mariners baseball, I feel like I’ve earned the right to be there.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from going to the game tonight, other than I’m kinda low on funds at the moment and have other plans I don’t especially want to get out of. I can always hold out hope that the M’s lose tonight and the Orioles stave off elimination for one more day. But, that seems unlikely to say the least. The way they’ve been playing lately, I’m sure we’ll have clinched before our game even gets to the third inning.

And when we do, I’ll be thrilled, I know it. Tomorrow will be nothing but one long party, and that’ll be super fun in its own right.

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