After playing 152 games, the 2016 Seattle Mariners have 10 games left to determine its ultimate fate. Which, like all of us, is something the team doesn't even have complete control over.
But, it's September 23 and the team is 2 games out of a Wild Card spot. Per Lookout Landing, the Mariners have the easiest remaining schedule among the top Wild Card contenders.
- SEA: 3 games @MIN, 3 games @HOU, 4 games vs. OAK (Combined W%: .441)
- HOU: 3 games vs. LAA, 3 games vs. SEA, 3 games @LAA (Combined W%: .467)
- BAL: 3 games vs. ARI, 3 games @TOR, 3 games @NYY (Combined W%: .496)
- DET: 3 games vs. KCR, 4 games vs. CLE, 3 games @ATL (Combined W%: .503)
- TOR: 4 games vs. NYY, 3 games vs. BAL, 3 games @BOS (Combined W%: .546)
Considering many fans were ready to throw in the towel after the disastrous series in Texas at the end of August, part of an putrid run where the Mariners won 3 out of 14 games, it's nothing short of incredible that the team is even in this position of having an underdog's chance at the postseason. The team was all but dead. Not mathematically eliminated, but falling dangerously out of range in a very competitive AL West and AL Wild Card race.
Suddenly, the Mariners started winning again. It took 3 out of 4 against those same Rangers in Seattle. Beat them handily, even. Then the Mariners took a tour through the dredges of the AL West and pulled off back-to-back sweeps of the Athletics and the Angels. An 8 game winning streak. Longest of the season. Also, Nelson Cruz hit a baseball so hard it entered another dimension at the mostly empty Angels stadium. I just happened to capture this screenshot when my phone was buffering a replay. Look at that guy's face! I'm pretty sure he and the guy next to him work for the Angels because they were there the whole series. But look at him! He is presumably someone who has watched more baseball than most in his life and he is utterly awestruck by the sound and fury of that Cruz home run.
Appreciate Nelson Cruz while we still can, people. Against all odds, we as Mariners fans might have somehow got to experience him at his peak, which is inexplicable given his age and career arc. He was nearly 30 before he became an everyday ballplayer.
Anyways, that home run is just one of many fantastic moments from that winning streak. The streak ended, like many good things, during a run-in with Houston. The Astros have truly become the nemesis of the Mariners since moving to the AL West from the National League 3 years ago. It was kinda funny at first, when both teams were bad, but now the Astros have been able to groom the young talent they acquired through years of high draft picks to become an absolutely relentless and annoying team to face. Thanks for all the nightmares, Altuve. But, the Mariners managed to get one win out of the series before the next horrific challenge: the 2nd Wild Card spot occupying Toronto Blue Jays and its merciless horde of Canadians.
The takeover of Safeco by mostly British Columbia Blue Jays fans has been happening for many years and if you just noticed it, you must be new. Yes, it sucks. No, it pretty much can't be avoided. Canadians buy tickets for the series as soon as the schedule gets released and usually go "on holiday" for the whole series and buy lots of stuff (beer) and support the local economy. Yes, it's even worse than when the Red Sox come to town. Whatever, it's not going to stop happening any time soon barring a few consecutive years of winning lots of games therefore drastically bumping up Mariners game attendance, especially on week nights when most folks have a billion other things to do.
Despite the hostile crowd, our embattled King Felix thrust his staff into the mound, screamed "THIS MY HOUSE!" and helped save the team from a sweep with 7 innings of shut out ball. Edwin Diaz, clinging to a 1-0 lead, gave up a game tying homer to Jose Bautista, the reaction to which by the massive Blue Jay crowd actually makes me ill to watch in highlights. I am thankful for once to have not been following along due to work. But, the day was saved in the 12th inning after Heredia zoomed around the bases on a field error by GOLD GLOVE AWARD WINNER Josh Donaldson and then another dropped tag by the same GOLD GLOVE AWARD WINNER when Heredia stole third base. Cano, whom we also don't appreciate enough, cracked a pop fly more than deep enough to left field to allow Heredia to practically moonwalk home and the celebration ensued. Go away, Blue Jays and your fans, for at least another calendar year. Thanks.
So here we are on the raggedy edge of the baseball season. Almost overnight, summer ended in Seattle and it is very much fall here. The humanity and morals consuming machine of the NFL is at full throttle. Precious little remains of our most noble sport until next spring, so enjoy these last 10 games. Appreciate them for the distraction and spectacle they provide. There will be disappointment, almost no matter what, so enjoy whatever good moments these games provide. I know I will.
Go Mariners, and #KeepFighting.