Mariners eliminated from playoff contention with 1 game to go

Sep 30, 2023, 8:04 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm

Seattle Mariners...

Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners reacts after he was taken out of the game on Sept. 30, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners entered Saturday with plenty of hope after back-to-back wins over the Texas Rangers. They will leave the day with their playoff hopes officially dead.

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With the Mariners’ 6-1 loss to Texas and the Houston Astros winning 1-0 in Arizona over the Diamondbacks, Seattle is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention ahead of the final game of the season.

While the American League West champion has yet to be crowned and won’t until Sunday, the six playoff teams in the American League are set.

The Baltimore Orioles are the AL East champions and the No. 1 seed in the league.

The Minnesota Twins are the AL Central champions and the No. 3 seed.

The Astros and Rangers are in. One will be the AL West champion and the No. 2 seed in the American League and have a first-round playoff bye while the other will be a wild card team.

The Toronto Blue Jays also clinched on Saturday despite losing earlier. Seattle’s loss gives the Jays a wild card spot for the second year in a row.

During the Mariners 6-1 to the Rangers, All-Star Luis Castillo had arguably his worst start of the year.

Castillo surrendered four runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work as he failed to navigate a tough Texas lineup that made him work deep into counts repeatedly. It wasn’t just the shortest start of Castillo’s entire season, but it was the first time all season he didn’t complete five innings. Meanwhile, Seattle’s bats failed to generate much of anything, putting minimal pressure on Rangers pitchers, led by spot-starter Andrew Heaney. Seattle’s lone run came on an Eugenio Suárez home run in the eighth inning.

Meanwhile in Arizona, the Astros, who took two of three from the Mariners earlier this week, beat the Diamondbacks both on Friday and Saturday. In both those games, Astros pitchers dominated. Houston won 2-1 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday.Justin Verlander tossed five innings of scoreless ball on Saturday while spot starter Jose Urquidy pitched six scoreless on Friday.

The result mattered mightily to the Mariners and Astros, but ultimately didn’t matter to the Diamondbacks, who clinched a National League wild card spot because the Cincinnati Reds lost to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday

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The Mariners entered Saturday not just with a chance of making the playoffs, but actually winning the American League West. If they had won their final two games ans the Astros went 1-1, Seattle would win the division thanks to a three-way tiebreaker in its favor. The M’s also had multiple paths to a wild card berth, either through going 2-0 or going 1-1 and getting help from Houston and/or Toronto.

But with the loss on Saturday, the Mariners needed one thing: A Houston loss in Arizona.

They didn’t get it, though, and the result is the Mariners are eliminated from playoff contention on the second-to-last game of the season. Game 162 now doesn’t matter for the Mariners at all, despite winning a franchise record 21 games in August and entering September atop the American League West. Seattle instead has gone 11-17 this month, the most losses of any month the M’s have had this year.

The Mariners will wrap up their season on Sunday with a series finale against the Rangers, who can clinch the AL West with a win or Astros loss to Arizona.

Looking ahead to the Seattle Mariners’ offseason

All eyes will now be on the Mariners’ offseason, with big questions largely centered around the lineup.

For the most part, the Mariners’ active roster is intact and set to return next season, but right fielder Teoscar Hernández is the team’s biggest pending free agent.

Players on expiring contracts technically become free agents the day after the World Series, but they can’t sign with a new team until five days after the World Series.

All club, team, mutual and vesting options for players’ contracts must be made within five days of the World Series ending.

Qualifying offers to pending free agents, including potentially Hernández, must be made within five days of the World Series ending. Players then have 10 days to accept or decline. If a player receives a qualifying offer, declines it and leaves for another team in free agency, the player’s previous team would then receive draft pick compensation.

As for non-tendering arbitration-eligible players and letting them test free agency, the deadline for deciding that is Nov. 17.

As for trades, which the Mariners have made plenty of under this regime, those can start the day after the World Series.

For more details on the upcoming MLB offseason and the key dates to know, check out this story by

ESPN’s Passan: Seattle Mariners brass ‘needs to recognize’ Rangers’ path to success

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