Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published August 6, 2014 at 8:09 PM | Page modified August 7, 2014 at 1:03 AM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

Mariners relishing being in the playoff chase

You can nitpick the Mariners’ weaknesses, or pooh-pooh the wisdom of the second wild card. But the fact remains: The race for the American League’s final playoff spot is deliciously wide open, with the Mariners smack dab in the middle of it.


Seattle Times staff reporter

WEDNESDAY

Seattle 7, Atlanta 3

THURSDAY

Team @ team

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
No matter what happens from here on out, I think manager LLoyd Mcclendon and his staff have done a terrific job thus... MORE
@Time Flies Its Fun @Lifetimeseattilite What trolls. Awful sad people get their kicks in posting and responding to a... MORE
@Semians @Time Flies Its Fun That stretch will be the cutter--Are the Ms for real? I can't wait! P.S. Screw pathetic... MORE

advertising

For too many years now, the arrival of August has triggered the emotional divestment of baseball season for Mariners fans. With the ballclub hopelessly out of contention, it has been time to move on to other things, like football and back-to-school shopping.

Not this year. You can nitpick the Mariners’ weaknesses, or pooh-pooh the wisdom of the second wild card. But the fact remains: The race for the American League’s final playoff spot is deliciously wide open, with the Mariners smack-dab in the middle of it.

And that means that baseball is not only still relevant as the clock ticks down on the 162-game season; it’s a blast.

“To me, there’s nothing better,’’ said Chris Young, one of the saviors of the Mariners’ season, after racking up his 10th win Wednesday, a 7-3 victory over the Braves.

You remember what it’s like, right? Well, not if you’re still in grade school. But the rest of you, I hope it’s all coming back when you see Lloyd McClendon pull Felix Hernandez after eight innings to save his arm for the stretch drive, or rearrange Seattle’s rotation to have his best three for the upcoming showdown with Toronto.

“I told someone the other day, the season just started,’’ McClendon said. “August first, that’s when the season starts. Particularly if you’re in a race. I think you’ll see better pitching, better defense. Games will be much more intense. I think our guys are enjoying it. I don’t see anyone getting tight or anything like that.

“I told them, just enjoy the journey. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but enjoy it. See what happens.”

It’s baseball the way it should be, and used to be. The return of Lou Piniella this weekend for his induction into the Mariners’ Hall of Fame is a poignant reminder of that. Contention was a common occurrence during his reign, with all the accoutrements: the excitement, the anticipation, the welcome nervousness that lasts all day until 7:10.

These Mariners are flawed, no doubt. We don’t need to rehash their offensive shortcomings. But so are the other teams in the wild-card race, which should allow the M’s to stay in it for the long haul. Particularly with the presence of a pitching staff that has greatness at the front end and depth throughout.

McClendon believes the Mariners’ output in Wednesday’s win — 12 hits, two homers and their first tally over six runs since July 1 — is indicative of an impending breakout with the bats. If that’s the case, the Mariners should have the edge over the other teams bunched within three games of that second wild card — the front-running Blue Jays, as well as the Royals, Yankees and Indians.

“I just feel it’s building,’’ McClendon said. “We have a nice mix now. We have a nice veteran presence in that lineup. I can see the determination in their eyes. I just think we’re getting ready to start taking off, from an offensive standpoint.”

The Mariners players, meanwhile, are enjoying the charged atmosphere at the ballpark.

“It’s fun looking up at the TV screen and seeing what other teams are doing, and knowing that every game now counts,’’ said Dustin Ackley. “Especially with the second wild card. It’s huge to know we’re in it right now, and if we keep playing well for the next month or two, we have a chance to take that second one, or push for the first wild card.

“I think any time you’re playing meaningful games, it helps. It helps the intensity. I think the more intense the games are, the better, and the more guys’ talents come out.”

There are a few players on hand who can verify that sentiment, like Robinson Cano, who was in yearly contention with the Yankees, and Austin Jackson, who played in three playoffs, including a World Series, with the Tigers.

“Once you get there and you get a taste of it, you always want to get back there,’’ Jackson said. “It makes the long season well worth it. A hundred and sixty-two games, at Game 40, you’re like, ‘Ah, man, it’s dragging.’ But once you get down to August, the games start to mean a lot more and they start to matter. Each and every game matters.

“A couple of wins, a couple of losses can determine whether you make the postseason or not.”

The Mariners, of course, could still go into a skid that takes them out of the race. But with the security of the best pitching staff in the majors, and the presence of a back-door entrance into the playoffs — a second back door — they have a golden opportunity to stay relevant.

That means no more playing out the string with little more than stat-padding as motivation.

“It’s been really cool,’’ said third baseman Kyle Seager. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do that in the past since I’ve been here. This has been pretty special. It’s a lot of fun, something that brings added excitement to the ballpark every day ... When you’re in it, you know you’re playing for something more than yourself. That’s a really good feeling.”

Will it bring out the best in the Mariners?

“It better,’’ said Seager.

AL wild-card standings
The top two wild-card teams play each other in a one-game playoff.
TeamRecordGms back
Angels67-45
Blue Jays61-54
Royals59-53.5
Mariners59-541
Yankees 59-541
Indians56-563.5

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►