Boy, oh boy, was that a fun weekend of Mariners baseball! Ichiro’s induction, taking three out of four from - and very nearly swept - a likely playoff foe in the Cleveland Guardians, and of course, softbaLL all combined for what was one of the best series of the season. Deadgar Weekend what?
Alas, the good vibes are on hold for today, as the M’s have the day off to travel for their penultimate Midwest jaunt of the season, where they’ll face the basement-dwelling Tigers for the first time this year and the Guardians once more. Today is also an off day for several playoff contenders, chief among them the Orioles: no matter what happens today, Seattle will stay 2.5 games up on a playoff spot. With just two relevant games going on today, there’s a chance to root for both the field to thin out and for the M’s to gain half a game on a fellow Wild Card team.
Cubs at Blue Jays, 4:07pm PDT
Javier Assad, whose profile graces the top of this article, will be making just his second career start for the Cubs. Newly 25, he battled through four scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his debut, though four walks against three strikeouts is certainly not ideal. For him to have any hope against a Toronto lineup that has hit the crap out of the ball all year, that command will need to have tightened up. José Berríos is going for the Jays, and has strung together a pair of solid starts against the Yankees and Red Sox after a disastrous eight-run outing against Cleveland on August 12th. Unfortunately for Toronto, Berríos has been one of the worst qualified starters in baseball, but they’ve gotta be hopeful that he’s turned a corner just in time for the stretch run. We, on the other hand, should be hopeful that those two starts were flukes. A Jays loss would extend the M’s hold on the second Wild Card spot to 1.5 games, so this is an easy call. Go Cubs.
Red Sox at Twins, 4:40pm PDT
The Red Sox have all but faded out of contention, sitting a full seven games out of a playoff spot with 34 left to play. Good news for us! They’ll be starting 23-year-old rookie Brayan Bello, who’s had a rough go of things in his first 22 big league innings; a 7.36 ERA and a BB/9 just a hair under 5 isn’t exactly inspiring. There’s a case to be made that he’s gotten unlucky, though - he hasn’t given up a homer in the Majors, and nobody is a true talent .472 BABIP. Tonight would be a great time for that luck to turn around, as the Twins are running out veteran Dylan Bundy, who’s put up a perfectly acceptable 4.56 ERA and 4.34 FIP over 108.2 innings. He’s also posted career lows in both strikeout rate (bad!) and walk rate (good!), though the homer problem that has plagued him throughout his career has not fully faded. The Twins are behind the Orioles among teams on the outside looking in, and a loss for them today would put them 3.5 games out of a playoff spot and 4.5 games behind the Mariners. We’re at the point of the season where any thinning off the playoff hopefuls is welcomed, so as much as it pains me, this is also a pretty easy call. Win your game, Red Sox.