Mariners lucked out, but they can’t miss on huge opportunity now

Sep 4, 2023, 10:27 AM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners walks back to the dugout against the Mets on Sept. 3, 2023. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Things really could have been a lot worse for the Seattle Mariners over the weekend.

Sunday: Alonso powers Mets as Mariners lose 6-3, drop series

Entering the start of a crucial road trip on Friday, the Mariners sat at 76-57, tied with the Houston Astros for the lead in the American League West (though technically ahead due to a head-to-head record tiebreaker) and one game ahead of the Texas Rangers. Unfortunately for Seattle, it was a rough weekend in New York as it dropped two of three to a Mets team that has mostly underperformed in 2023.

Despite that stumble in the Big Apple, the Mariners (77-59) actually gained ground in the division race.

Current MLB Standings: Division | Wild Card

While Texas didn’t make move, also dropping two of three in its series at home against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, the Astros had even more trouble with the other underacheiving New York team as the Yankees swept them in Houston.

The Mariners lucked out – at least this time. The mistakes that cost them against the Mets, the most obvious being rookie José Caballero getting picked off immediately after coming into the game as a pinch-runner at first base with no outs in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss on Friday, may not loom large at the end of this playoff race because Texas and Houston didn’t make the M’s pay for them. As a result, Seattle comes into a new week sitting alone in first place, with both the Rangers (76-60) and the Astros (77-61) a game back in the standings.

That being said, the old adage “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” needs to be echoing in the Mariners’ heads now.

The first three days of this week are about as important as it will get for the M’s until they play seven against the Rangers and three against the Astros in the final 10 games of the season, because Texas and Houston are meeting for their final series against each other.

No matter the outcomes from the Texas-Houston series at Globe Life Field from Monday through Wednesday, every game presents an opportunity for the Mariners. Houston wins and Texas loses, and the M’s can put space between themselves and the Rangers. Texas wins and Houston loses, same goes for the Astros.

Of course, the Mariners need to do their part to take advantage. They’ll be in Cincinnati facing the scrappy Reds (71-68), who are in the thick of a wild card chase in the National League themselves. It’s tough to ask for a sweep against cellar dwellers, let alone a team on the rise at their own ballpark, but it’s hard to imagine a series against an opponent that isn’t a division rival where it would matter more than now for Seattle.

Every game from now until the final out of the Mariners’ 2023 campaign is going to be pivotal, but the final 10 games of the regular season loom as a gauntlet that will determine this team’s fate. The M’s are going to need all the help they can find before they get there, and the best way to get that help is by providing it themselves. There will be no better spot to do so than in these next three days.

At a glance: M’s at Reds

• Monday: Bryan Woo (SEA) vs. Tejay Antone (CIN), 1:10 p.m.
• Tuesday: Bryce Miller (SEA) vs. Connor Phillips (CIN), 3:40 p.m.
• Wednesday: Logan Gilbert (SEA) vs. Bryan Richardson (CIN), 3:40 p.m.

All three games will be carried on Seattle Sports 710 AM and streaming on the Seattle Sports app to listeners in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Montana. Coverage will begin 70 minutes before first pitch with the pregame show. For details on how to listen to Mariners Radio Network broadcasts from Seattle Sports, click here.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez, Andrés Muñoz win AL awards for August
Mariners Check-In: How Seattle’s trade deadline looks a month later
What should Mariners do with Teoscar Hernández? Morosi weighs in
Key to Mariners’ historic month? Something they doubled down on
Drayer: Seattle Mariners enter September having turned the tables

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Mariners lucked out, but they can’t miss on huge opportunity now