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Dipoto: What’s critical for Mariners over remaining 10 games

Sep 21, 2023, 10:22 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm

Seattle Mariners...

The Seattle Mariners celebrate their 8-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 12, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are enjoying their final off day of the regular season on Thursday. Starting Friday is 10 games that will determine whether they make it back to the postseason.

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The Mariners are 84-68 and tied for second place in the American League West and the third AL wild card spot. But due to a tiebreaker with the Texas Rangers, the M’s are technically on the outside looking in with just 10 games remaining.

What makes the Mariners’ remaining schedule particularly noteworthy is all 10 games come against the two teams they’re competing with in the AL West. Seattle has seven games left against Texas and three against the Houston Astros, who lead the Mariners and Rangers by just a half game in the division.

On Friday, the Mariners will be in Texas facing the Rangers in the first of a three-game set.

“I think it goes without saying these will be the next three biggest games we’ve played all year,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said during his weekly Seattle Sports show on Thursday. “And in some ways for a lot of our players, this will be a similar experience to what we felt last season when we went into our postseason series with Toronto and Houston.”

So what are the keys for the Mariners over these final 10 games, and particularly this upcoming series at Texas? Dipoto shared his insight with Brock and Salk.

“It’s controlling the moment and not letting it get too fast out there. It’s a huge ballpark,” Dipoto said of the Rangers’ home field. “If you’ve not been here at the new ballpark in Texas, it is enormous and it feels like it’s built north and south more than just about any other ballpark in our league. It feels like you’re in this giant auditorium once the roof closes. Don’t let the size or the enormity of the moment take you over.”

Dipoto pointed to veteran leaders like shortstop J.P. Crawford and third baseman Eugenio Suárez for making sure that doesn’t happen.

“Guys in our clubhouse who are able to keep the intensity without losing the looseness,” Dipoto said. “And that’s going to be important for us this weekend because you’ve got to throw strikes, you’ve got to keep (the Rangers) off the bases and more important than anything, you have to keep them from advancing without doing something to earn it.”

As far as all of the remaining games, Dipoto said the focus has to be what’s directly in front of the Mariners without looking too far ahead or even what’s already transpired.

“That’s a real challenge. And hopefully it’s something that through development, that during our time here together we’ve done well in I guess passing along to our players is just that. Be where your feet are and go out there and do what you do. Control the moment,” Dipoto said. “And we tend to do that very well, which is why I think we bounce back after we lose a couple and we don’t let it compound on us.”

Playing all 10 games against division rivals “is meaningful,” Dipoto said.

“And then after that, it’s just getting in and getting on the dance floor and trusting that our 26 men and our strategies and our readiness is better than whoever we play,” he said. “So to that end, once we get to the end line, however we get in, that’s how we get in. It’s just a matter of winning the games between now and then.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. with Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports. Listen to this week’s interview at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Kurkjian: Castillo and Brash two key arms for Mariners in playoffs
• Kurkjian: Why Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez, J.P. Crawford will get MVP votes
• Drayer: Seattle Mariners find payoff in not trying to do too much
• Salk: Who do Mariners need to step up during intense final stretch?
• Mariners’ J.P. Crawford homers, celebrates by petting dog
• Which big bats could Seattle Mariners get this winter? Watch for trades, says Morosi

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Dipoto: What’s critical for Mariners over remaining 10 games