The Seattle Mariners are currently in playoff position. They’re tied with the Kansas City Royals for the second wild card. They’re half a game behind the Oakland Athletics for the first wild card. Imagine hearing that in March. What would you assume the date is? April 5th? Maybe June 6th, if you’re really bullish on the M’s? It’s September 12th. There’s barely two weeks left of this season. This is where the Mariners find themselves.
Those Oakland A’s they’re half a game back of? Why, that’s the team who convinced us early that they were the class of organized professional baseball. Best team in the world, no questions asked. Now it seems like that’s more likely the Los Angeles Angels or Washington Nationals, but even after this collapse there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the Athletics are the best. The Mariners are this close to catching them.
How is James Paxton doing this? He’s up to ten big league starts this year and fourteen in his career. That’s over half a season’s worth of major league outings, and so far he’s been incredible. Today: six innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), three walks, eight strikeouts. Eight strikeouts. It’s like he’s just getting better and better, starting from a baseline of amazing. What an unbelievable ace in the hole to have down the stretch.
In the first inning it was Robinson Cano with two outs and nobody on. In the fifth it was Logan Morrison with one out and nobody on. In the sixth it was Kendrys Morales, skying a two-out solo shot that proved as insurance against an already-unlikely loss. Solo power and a dynamite rookie starter led the way today. Two more strikeouts from Carson Smith, a quick out from Charlie Furbush, and a rocky-yet-overpowering Fernando Rodney Experience finished things off.
The Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2, and right now it’s a virtual toss-up between those two teams. Kansas City and Detroit are still hanging around, making things messy, but right now the Mariners are in a near-identical position to the team who might be the best team in baseball. The Mariners. These Mariners, of all Mariners. They’re good, really good, and the playoffs are looking more and more likely every day.
Felix Hernandez vs. Sonny Gray tomorrow at 6:10. This is the biggest game played by this Mariners team, and absolutely one of the most important games played by any Mariners team ever. They’re in control of their own destiny. All we can do now is look on, awestruck, trying to appreciate it as best we know how.