For weeks, the Seattle Mariners have been lurking around in the American League Wild Card race, often behind the two AL East powerhouses (New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox), Oakland Athletics, and Toronto Blue Jays.
But things are starting to get really interesting for Mariners fans.
The team is currently on a five-game winning streak, and they have started to climb in the Wild Card landscape.
The Mariners Are Making A Strong Push
Right now, the Yankees have the first Wild Card spot with a 78-58 record, closely followed by the 79-60 Red Sox (only half a game behind).
Who is the third team in the race?
Yes, the Mariners.
Not good enough for a postseason berth, yet. But the #Mariners have the 9th best record in MLB.
— Luke Arkins (@luke_arkins) September 6, 2021
Seattle has a 75-62 record and is three games behind the Red Sox for the second Wild Card berth.
Prior to the season, everybody thought the Mariners were the fourth-best team in the AL West division, behind the Houston Astros, A’s, and Los Angeles Angels.
Not only they are better than the team that has Shohei Ohtani, but they recently leapfrogged the Athletics (74-63) in the standings and are currently one game ahead of them.
To make matters much more interesting for the Mariners, they have taken advantage of a bit of a rough patch by the Astros (lost two straight, 5-5 over their last 10 games) and now are 4.5 games out of first place in the West.
A few weeks ago, fighting for first place in the AL West was a ridiculous thought to have, but now, albeit unlikely, it is a real possibility for a Seattle team that still has a negative run differential.
Rooting for you Mariners simply because a team with a negative run differential making the postseason is fun. pic.twitter.com/hqvcECcche
— Craig, Why Sports? (@craignakagai) September 5, 2021
The Mariners and the Astros will play a three-game set, their last face-to-face matchup of the season, from Monday to Wednesday.
The series will be played at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
It remains to be seen if the Mariners, who are playing without several top contributors due to injury, have what it takes to sweep, or at least win, the series.
At the moment, Seattle is without pitchers James Paxton, Justin Dunn, Andres Muñoz, Ken Giles, and Nick Margevicius, among others; as well as position players like Kyle Lewis (the reigning AL Rookie of the Year), Jake Fraley, Evan White, and Shed Long Jr.
Can They Pull Off The Upset In Houston?
If they do take the series in Houston, things in the West can get really exciting until the end of the season.
Either way, the Mariners now have two avenues toward a potential postseason berth, which is remarkable for a franchise that is contending at least a year or two earlier than anticipated.
The M’s have some of the most exciting prospects in the game, like Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Noelvi Marte, George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, and Logan Gilbert, just to mention the most highly regarded.
Only Kelenic and Gilbert have seen MLB time this season, which makes the future even more impressive.
As of now, getting to the playoffs is still a long-shot, but at least the Mariners are in prime position to fight for a berth and end their 20-year postseason drought, the largest in MLB at the moment.