How concerning is Mariners’ series loss to Dodgers with 13 games left?

Sep 17, 2023, 4:46 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2023, 10:32 pm

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais...

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais looks on before a game on Sept. 13, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Getting swept at home while in the middle of a September playoff race is never a good thing. So in that respect, there’s no reason to be happy about the Seattle Mariners’ three straight losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.

Sunday: Dodgers secure series sweep of Mariners with 6-1 win

The Mariners, who are now 81-68, played well – at least for the first two games of the series. It wasn’t enough, and the Dodgers showed the Mariners why they’re the National League West champs for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. And to make matters worse, LA celebrated that most recent division title on the T-Mobile Park field Saturday night after a 6-2 win in extra innings.

Those three losses hurt. They can be looked at as missed opportunities, especially considering the M’s had multiple chances to win Saturday and hung with Los Angeles for much of the game on Friday, a 6-3 Dodgers win. You can never have too many wins this time of year, and the Mariners have struggled to find them for much of September, owning a 5-11 record so far this month.

OK, after reading this far, you can tell there’s a “but” coming, right? Because there absolutely is.

The Mariners haven’t done what they’ve needed to do in September, and the Dodgers’ sweep is concerning, especially when it comes to Seattle’s issues bringing runners on base home. But whatever happens in the long run in this American League playoff race, the Dodgers series was unlikely to ever be make or break for the M’s.

Why? For starters, while the M’s have been scuffling this month, so has their key competition for the AL West crown.

The first-place Houston Astros? They’re 7-8 this month, including a disappointing 2-4 against the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics, the only teams in baseball with more than 100 losses this season.

How about the Texas Rangers, who right now sit in the third and final wild card spot? They, like the Mariners, also got swept this weekend (by Cleveland) and are now just 7-9 in September.

As a result, the Mariners remain within striking distance of both. Houston (84-66) is up 2 1/2 games on Seattle, while Texas (82-67) is just one game ahead. And those deficits aren’t insurmountable considering the Mariners have two series and seven games total left against the Rangers, plus a three-game set versus the Astros.

Current MLB Standings: Division | Wild Card

So the biggest thing is that no matter what happened this weekend against the Dodgers, the fact that the Mariners will have to go through the Astros and Rangers over the final week-plus of the season was never going to change. Same goes for the fact that Seattle gets three winnable (and, to be fair, almost must-win) games at Oakland to start this week, which could vault the M’s right back into playoff position if they take care of business against the 102-loss A’s. Or the fact that the Rangers have to play the Red Sox (74-76, and probably tougher than their record suggests) at the same time, while the Astros get the AL-leading Orioles (93-56).

Now, where the Mariners stand is obviously not ideal. A win or two against the Dodgers sure would have helped. They’ve lost a significant amount of momentum this month, having hit speed bumps at different times with the offense, starting rotation and bullpen, and they don’t have the benefit of the breathing room that the Rangers and especially Astros have going into the final gauntlet of AL West competition.

There’s also the matter of the Toronto Blue Jays (83-67). They’re in the wild card race, too, and currently own the second spot, ahead of Seattle by 1 1/2 games. Of all the teams fighting for the remaining playoff berths, they’re the only one with a winning record this month – the Jays are 10-6 in September after sweeping three from Boston this weekend, somewhat erasing the effect of being swept by Texas in four straight in the previous series. Perhaps out of all of these teams, they’ll be the hardest to push out of a postseason spot.

But hey, this is September baseball. It tends to produce drama whether you want it to or not.

The Mariners have been in a much better position at times throughout this race, whether it was leading the AL West or sitting in either of the two wild card spots. Their play has not kept them there, unfortunately. One thing that has been true ever since Seattle’s amazing August got them back in the chase remains so, however: the Mariners control their own destiny.

It will require winning more than losing over the 13 games against AL West competition that remain. But with all that’s left being three against Oakland, three against Houston (who Seattle owns the tiebreaker over), and seven against Texas, the Mariners’ fate is in their own hands.

Just win, and you’re in.

What’s next

• Mariners at Athletics: Monday-Wednesday
• Mariners at Rangers: Sept. 22-24
• Mariners vs. Astros: Sept. 25-27
• Mariners vs. Rangers: Sept. 28-Oct. 1

Radio broadcasts of all games airing on Seattle Sports beginning with the pregame show at least an hour before first pitch. Click here for details on how to listen.

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