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Moore: The Mariners haven’t looked good, but things are set up for them to make up ground

The Mariners have a chance to make up ground against the A's in four games in Oakland. (AP)

I’m guessing we all feel the same way – the Mariners are dead in the water, belly up, floating to shore, 17 years and counting without a playoff appearance.

They trail the A’s by 5 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot, and it appears hopeless to think they’ll catch Oakland at this point. When you get swept in a two-game series by the worst team in the National League, how can you beat a team that has the best MLB record over the past two months? And on the road, no less.

Remember when the Mariners looked dreadful earlier this month, losing three of four to the Blue Jays and two of three to the Rangers? We all thought they were dead then, but look what happened – they took four straight games from the Astros, beating four of the best starters in the American League.

Honestly, I still feel like you can stick a fork in ’em, but if anything has been a consistent theme with the Mariners this year, it’s this – right when you think they’re really good, they look terrible; and right when you think they’re terrible, they turn into world beaters. It has happened again and again with nothing to suggest that a change is in the air.

Play along for a minute. In the last week, the A’s have gotten bad news with two of their starters, Sean Manaea and Brett Anderson, going on the 10-day disabled list. Their rotation is now as much of a muddle as the Mariners, and while the A’s lost their ace, Scott Servais will get his back when James Paxton returns from the forearm bruise on Saturday. You can also be encouraged by the re-emergence of Felix Hernandez, who gave up two earned runs in seven innings Tuesday night against the Padres. Hernandez will start Sunday in the series finale.

You also have to like your chances, within reason, with Wade LeBlanc going Thursday night and Mike Leake going Friday. More often than not, they have kept their teammates in the game, giving the Mariners a chance to win.

I know there are all kinds of reasons you could list as to why the Mariners will still get swept by the A’s. Their lineup has a bunch of black holes. Whatever happened to that “control the zone” stuff that was supposed to be a Mariners’ mantra? They don’t control the zone. Proof of that came Tuesday night when they allowed a rookie Padres’ starter to own them through eight innings on an economical number of pitches.

If you played along for a minute, now I’m asking for two minutes. Let’s say the Mariners go 3-1 against the A’s. I’m not suggesting a sweep. Going 3-1 is more realistic. If that happens, they’ll be 3 1/2 games behind the A’s.

Then look at the schedule next week – while the Mariners host Baltimore for a three-game series against the far-and-away worst team in MLB, the A’s will host the Yankees for a three-game series. Let’s throw out another possible scenario – if the Mariners sweep the Orioles, and the A’s lose two of three to the Yankees, the Mariners will only be 1 1/2 back with 22 games remaining.

That’s all I’ve got. I know it’s a reach, but it’s not completely out of the question just yet.

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