When it comes to this business of playing spoiler, the Mariners have kind of done that, and kind of not.
The team for which they’ve primarily spoiled things is the Anaheim Angels of Desperation. who are in town tonight for the opener of a three-game series with the Mariners that they have to sweep, and then hope for a miracle, to stay alive in the wild-card race.
The Angels are three games behind Oakland for the second wild-card berth, so their best-case scenario (their only scenario) is plain to see: In addition to sweeping the Mariners, they need the Texas Rangers to sweep the A’s, thus forcing a tie for the last wild-card spot. The Rays could muddle things up by sweeping the Orioles, leaving up a possibility of what Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News calls “The Mother of All Crazy Playoff Scenarios.” Just reading it gives me a headache, but have at it. Sweeps by Texas, Seattle and Tampa Bay would leave a three-way tie for the final wild-card spot — with the side plot of a possible tie for the AL East and first wild-card spot between the Yankees (who finish with three against the Red Sox) and Orioles.
The Angels can look back at their games against the Mariners down the stretch — which I’ll define as from Aug. 1 to the end of the season — and wince. They are 5-4 in nine games against Seattle in that span, but those four losses are obviously killing them right now. Contrast that with the Mariners’ record in that same time period against the A’s and Orioles: Seattle is 0-6 against both teams, who took full advantage of playing against a losing team. The Rangers are 3-3 against the Mariners since Sept. 14, by the way, meaning that the Mariners have hurt them in a way they couldn’t do with the A’s — who remain alive for the AL West title.
The Mariners now have three games to commit the ultimate act of spoiling: Any win over the Angels would officially end their playoff chances (as would any win by the A’s).