Playoff Race: Mariners pass Astros, move within 1 game of Texas

Aug 24, 2023, 2:55 PM | Updated: 10:50 pm

Seattle Mariners...

The Seattle Mariners celebrate a win over the Houston Astros on Aug. 20, 2023. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners got hot at the right time. That’s because their big run in August has coincided with their key competition hitting bumps in the road.

Even though the M’s don’t have a game on Thursday, they have made a big move in the standings. And it’s all thanks to their chief rivals, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.

Dipoto: Where the Mariners’ pitching depth, rotation plan stands

First, let’s concentrate on Houston, which was blown out 17-1 by the Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. It marks the fifth time the Astros have lost in their last seven games, with the first three of those losses coming at the hands of the Mariners, who swept them in Houston last weekend.

The defending World Series champions are now 72-57 on the season, which is even in the standings with the 71-56 Mariners. Seattle has the advantage, however – and yes, you really did read that right. The M’s have an 8-2 record against Houston this year, which guarantees them a win over the Astros in the season series as only a three-game set in the final week of play remains between the two teams. That head-to-head record serves as the first tiebreaker in any scenario between Seattle and Houston.

That means that the Seattle Mariners currently hold the American League’s second wild card, while the Astros fall into the third and final spot.

Now onto the Rangers, who made things even better for the M’s on Thursday night. The AL West leaders began a series with the AL Central-leading Twins in Minnesota, and despite going up by three runs early in the game and taking a 5-4 advantage into the eighth inning, the Rangers fell 7-5 after the Twins rallied for three runs.

Current MLB Standings: Division | Wild Card

It all seems to be unraveling for the Rangers, who have lost seven straight and are just a game ahead of the Mariners and Astros for the division at 72-55. Brings to mind the 1995 California Angels, doesn’t it?

As for the wild card race, the Mariners and Astros each sit a 1 1/2 games in front of Toronto (70-58) and 3 1/2 ahead of Boston (68-60).

Tampa Bay (78-51) remains safe in position for the first wild card, six games up on Seattle and Houston.

The Mariners continue play at 7:10 p.m. Friday when they take on the Kansas City Royals (41-88) at T-Mobile Park. That will begin a six-game homestand against the two worst teams in the AL, as the Royals sit ahead of only the Oakland Athletics (36-91), who will come to Seattle on Monday for a three-game set.

For details on how to listen to Mariners Radio Network broadcasts from Seattle Sports, click here.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Coach Manny Acta: Who leads Mariners behind the scenes?
Video: John Smoltz on how good the Seattle Mariners’ pitching is
Passan: Mariners should lock up Cal Raleigh next, but it won’t be easy
Passan: Mariners’ Julio currently ‘as good as a baseball player can be’
Drayer: How the Seattle Mariners turned into the AL’s hottest team

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Playoff Race: Mariners pass Astros, move within 1 game of Texas