For a week straight, the Kansas City Royals refused to lose. During their eight-game winning streak they catapulted past the Detroit Tigers to take the lead in the AL Central, with the Tigers assuming the role of second wild card leaders. The Tigers had that lead all to themselves for exactly a day. They lost again today, but so did the Royals. But you know who didn’t lose? The Seattle Mariners.
Last night featured Felix Hernandez and the start of a big series. But every game is going to be more important than the last from here on out, so this one, while less flashy, was arguably a bigger game than a night ago. The New York Yankees lost tonight, too, so really this was the perfect opportunity for the M’s to gain some ground. And hey, would you look at that, the M’s gained some ground.
Chris Young pitched six strong innings, again doing that thing where he keeps baserunners to a minimum. Two men reached on hits, with two more drawing walks. He even struck out three for good measure, though we’re past the point of needing to see strong peripherals from Young. At this point, it’s probably safe to say that we all accept him as the sorcerer that he is.
Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales each went yard tonight, with both blasts being of the solo variety. Dustin Ackley had a big two-run single, Logan Morrison added to his quiet thirteen-game hitting streak with a double and a single, and the Jays even botched a routine groundout with two outs and a runner on third. That’s six runs for ya. That’s a win for ya.
The most important thing that happened tonight is that the Mariners won. The second-most important thing that happened tonight is that the Royals, Tigers, and Blue Jays all lost. The Yankees were rained out, and though the Indians won, that just brought them back to .500. The Mariners gained ground on an important night, and now they share a wild card spot with the Detroit Tigers.
Are we even sure that the Tigers are a better team than the Mariners rest-of-season? The Tigers have David Price and Max Scherzer, but Justin Verlander and Annibal Sanchez are hurt. Rick Porcello‘s awesome, but man, it sure would be nice if Doug Fister and/or Drew Smyly were still around. And how about Rajai Davis, everyday center fielder? I bet the Tigers wish they had someone juuuust like Austin Jackson right about now.
The Mariners are in a startlingly good position, and once again, it’s only gotten better with the day’s events. Were the season to have just ended, the M’s would play Detroit for the right to play Anaheim for the right to play Oakland. So while we say they’re in “playoff position,” what we mean is that they’re a couple of play-in games removed from having to face the best team in baseball in a best-of-five. Things aren’t about to get easy.
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. R.A. Dickey, tomorrow night at 7:10. How big would this sweep be? The Jays would be three games out, and the Mariners would have a chance at grabbing sole possession of the second wild card. That’d be some real seperation from the AL East teams, with only the Royals and Tigers really standing between the Mariners and October. I could end with some sobering message about how anything could happen over a month and a half, or I could end by noting that “anything” could be “the Seattle Mariners winning twenty games in a row and securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs.”