Well, those weekend games weren’t so fun. Add in an off day to stew over it? Barf. No way around it: dropping series to the Rangers and A’s on this road trip was not fun, especially because it was easy to see how they could have pulled out another win or two. Despite all those bad feelings, though, the M’s in fact gained a half-game cushion on a Wild Card spot across this trip. Commenter aubr noted in ZAM’s lovely recap of yesterday’s game that the only loss that matters to them is the one that will knock Seattle out of a playoff spot, and personally, I find that a good mindset to keep - no matter how hard that may be in the moment.
While the Mariners rest up before a two-game set with the Nationals and an absolutely huge four-game series against the Guardians (on Ichiro weekend, no less!), there are a few games happening relevant to our interests. Today’s slate isn’t quite the all-day affair Thursday’s was, but we still have a morning matchup and a couple games that’ll start near the end of the workday.
White Sox at Royals, 11:10am PDT
The White Sox were idle yesterday due to a rainout in Cleveland, gaining half a game on the M’s and Blue Jays. They’ll be starting Michael Kopech, whose shiny 3.25 ERA masks some wavering command and a dip in Ks from years past - though he did strike out eleven Tigers in his start on the 12th. Lefty Daniel Lynch will take the mound for Kansas City, who dropped the past two games to the Rays over the weekend. Very rude of them! I’ll consider forgiveness if they can keep Chicago at bay - at 3.5 games behind Seattle, it doesn’t exactly feel likely that the South Siders will make a late push, but I’ve had far too many memories of them ruining Marinerland’s days over the past decade to feel fully comfortable. Go Royals.
Angels at Rays, 4:10pm PDT
The Rays have been the hottest of all the teams holding Wild Card spots at 7-3, and coming off of a solid series win against the aforementioned Royals are continuing their homestand against Anaheim. Jeffrey Springs will start the game for Tampa, and he’s settled into their rotation quite nicely with a 3.41 FIP across sixteen starts. Tucker Davidson bounced back from a rough start against our very own Seattle Mariners to set down the Twins his last time out, throwing six innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 victory. If he would like to repeat or even improve on that performance, I will take it. That’s as much as I can root for Anaheim at this moment. Win your game, Angels.
Rangers at Twins, 4:10pm PDT
The Twins also dropping both games this weekend has been a huge salve for the Mariners. Minnesota is the first team on the outside looking in, and with every loss from them, Seattle’s playoff clinching number shrinks, dropping to 40 despite the M’s going 0-2. In other words, this game may be the most important one in the lineup. Sonny Gray will go for the Twins in the finale of this four-game set, and will hope to help them come away with a series split. He’s had a fine year when healthy, putting up a 3.33 FIP across 18 start, but he hasn’t been going very deep into games, with just 89.2 innings pitched - good for right around five an outing. Cole Ragans will continue the quest for his first big league win in his fourth career start for Texas. After a debut of one-run ball across five innings, he had a rough go of it in his last two starts, and his early numbers are not pretty. 7.45 FIP and more walks than strikeouts? I don’t blame you for running away screaming. Still, he could potentially fool the Twins given the lack of a book out on him, and Minnesota’s bullpen has been pretty shaky all season. Perhaps these factors could combine in our favor. Go Rangers.