It was a winning home stand for the Seattle Mariners, but their 5-4 mark wasn’t enough to make major headway in the tight American League Wild Card race. They go on the road now for seven games: definitely the hardest road trip left on the schedule with four games vs. the Rangers and three games vs. the Astros. The Mariners are three games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second Wild Card spot, but also currently behind the Angels, the Rangers, and the Royals while they are tied with the Orioles. The dream of a playoff birth isn’t exactly dead, but the Mariners need some wins and some help.
Trades Paying Off. On the surface, the Mike Leake deal seemed very risky. He had struggled after the All-Star Break to the point the St. Louis Cardinals were willing to move him with years left on his deal. Leake, though, has been the veteran arm that the Mariners desperately needed. Leake has put up two Quality Starts, and, more importantly, has won both of his starts to keep Seattle in the race. In another post-deadline deal, the Mariners took a chance on Andrew Albers, from the Braves. Albers has been electric in Seattle going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts. GM Jerry Dipoto has never been shy about making deals, and these two have kept Seattle in the race.
Help on the Horizon? As of today, the Mariners are planning to use both James Paxton and Felix Hernandez on this road trip, both starters returning from injuries. Hernandez is slotted to start the finale of the Texas series on Thursday, and Paxton is scheduled to go Friday in Houston. The interesting thing to note on the Mariners’ starters returning is that both will be on low strict pitch counts. If they struggle, they may not even go five innings. Because of the expanded rosters, the Mariners will be counting on long relief to carry them the rest of the way. Marco Gonzales and Yovani Gallardo will probably both be counted on to take the Mariners from their starters to the end of the bullpen.
The Lone Star State. For the Mariners to seriously be in contention for a Wild Card spot, they need to go 5-2 on this seven game trip through Texas. The Rangers games are doubly important because Texas is currently up on Seattle in the standings. The Mariners have only seen the Rangers once after the All-Star Break, and they took two of three games in Arlington in the beginning of August. The Mariners saw the Astros last week in their home stand, and they were glad to see the Astros leave town as they took three straight. Even though the Astros have the A.L. West sown up, they are in a battle for home field throughout the playoffs with the red-hot Cleveland Indians. The Astros trail the Indians, winners of eighteen in a row, by one game going into today’s action.