UPDATE 10:51 P.M., FRIDAY: THE MARINERS’ 7-4 LOSS TO TEXAS ON FRIDAY CLINCHES SECOND PLACE FOR THE RANGERS, WHO NOW HAVE A FOUR-GAME LEAD OVER THE MARINERS WITH TWO TO PLAY. MY CAL-BERKELEY MATH TELLS ME THAT’S INSURMOUNTABLE. THE MARINERS HAD THE LEAD WITH FOUR OUTS TO GO, BUT COULDN’T HOLD IT.
It hasn’t gotten as much attention as the Mariners’ rare feat of following up last year’s 100-loss season with a winning record (one of 13 teams in modern history), but the M’s have still have a chance to catch the Texas Rangers for second place. And they don’t need any help to do it.
When the Mariners lost five in a row earlier this month, it was not realistic to think they could catch the Rangers. The losing streak (two losses to Oakland, and three to the Angels), left them with a 72-69 record on Sept. 11. The Rangers, with a 79-60 mark, were eight games ahead of Seattle.
But then the Mariners went into Texas and took two out of three. Since the losing streak, the Mariners are 10-7, while the Rangers have imploded. They were riding a four-game losing streak heading into this afternoon’s game against the Angels, and had lost 13 of 19 overall. Texa picked up an 11-3 win over the Angels, who having already clinched, sent out a lineup of rookies and reserves. Starter John Lackey worked just two innings.
After last night’s 7-0 win by the Mariners, coupled with the Rangers’ 5-0 loss to the Angels, the Mariners pulled within three games of the Rangers, with four to play. Now, if the Mariners had been beaten by Oakland on Thursday, it would have been over, Texas clinching second. The Rangers’ magic number is one, if it’s even legal to have a magic number for finishing second (I’ll check with the attorney general and get back to you).
But the Mariners beat Oakland 4-2 to complete a three-game sweep, and go into their final series at Safeco Field — against Texas, wouldn’t you know — with a chance to finish tied for second with a sweep. For a team that lost 101 games last year, that would be a nice accomplshment. Of the 12 previous modern teams that followed a 100-loss season with a winning record, only three finished as high as second — the 1989 Orioles, the 1980 A’s, and the 1974 Rangers.
Hey, it’s not quite a pennant race, but it’s all we have left.
(Associated Press photo)