Mariners have no more margin for error after letdown against Phillies

Aug 22, 2014, 11:01 AM | Updated: 11:25 am
A failed suicide-squeeze bunt contributed to the Mariners losing two of three to the last-place Phi...
A failed suicide-squeeze bunt contributed to the Mariners losing two of three to the last-place Phillies. (AP)
(AP)

The Mariners dropped two of three in Philadelphia this week and gave up a series that they absolutely should have won.

It’s not inaccurate to note that, even in defeat, you can see that this team has improved from its offense-less former self and is capable of making the kind of late-season run that fans have dreamed of for years. Seattle’s offense has finally evolved from dreadful to just-good-enough and can help keep the Mariners in a game when their trademark pitching falters.

In a game like the mistake-laden effort on Wednesday, the Mariners were in it to the end despite a fourth inning that would have doomed them in the past, and they were far more competitive than they had been before the MLB trade deadline.

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to note all that. It also doesn’t matter in the least for a team with postseason aspirations. This is August and the bottom line is that teams that want to play into October cannot play the way Seattle just did.

First baseman Logan Morrison was quick to note in his postgame interview Wednesday that playoff teams don’t make the kind of mistakes that plagued the Mariners in Philadelphia. He couldn’t be more right. Morrison was also quick to note that this team has won big games this year already and that they can get back to winning games moving forward. I sincerely hope that he’s right because if the Mariners had any room to err in a razor-thin American League postseason race, they used it up by letting those two games slip in Philadelphia.

The major-league season described so often as a marathon has reached the sprint stage and there are only 36 games remaining for the Mariners. It’s not difficult to see why it’s so important that this team wins the handful of games that remain against inferior teams when you consider the fact that the Mariners still have 13 games against the Angels and Athletics, four games in Toronto, a three-game road series against the always-pesky Astros and three games at home against the first-place Nationals. That’s a lot of quality opposition still waiting for this team, and making up ground against the Phillies of the world will be important.

Consider the fact that even if the Mariners were to win every series against every team remaining on their schedule, they’d only add 25 wins to their current total and would finish the season 93-69. While that’s a marked improvement over 2013 and probably good enough for a wild-card berth, even that win total would leave room for much nail biting down the stretch.

The good news?

The next six games are all against teams as bad or worse than Philadelphia with three games against fifth-place Boston followed by three home games against the worst-in-baseball Rangers. These are teams that are simply playing out the string and will offer the Mariners an opportunity to employ a short memory and get right in a hurry. Winning at least four of the next six sets this team up in the thick of the playoff chase with just three days remaining in August. In a season that first exceeded then raised so many expectations in Seattle, that’s really all that Mariners fans can ask for.

Time grows short for MLB teams in September and the Mariners still have a special season very much within their reach, but what happened this week in Philadelphia cannot be repeated.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and if you feel the need to know more stuff that I think about, please follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.

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