Against all the odds, the Seattle Mariners are half a game away from a spot in the 2021 Major League playoffs, with just five games remaining in the regular series.
Seattle’s Tuesday victories over Oakland Athletics, the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles over the Boston Red Sox further closed the fight for the two wild card spots for the American League playoffs.
Entering Tuesday’s activity, New York (90-67) has possession of the first Wild Card, leading two complete games over their hated rivals Boston (88-69), which holds the second wild card, but only half game over the Mariners (88-70), one over Toronto (87-70) and 3.5 over Oakland (85-73).
Of all those teams involved, the only unexpected one is Seattle, which started the season with a projection of finishing with a 74-88 record and in the penultimate place in the West Division of the young circuit, according to Fangraphs.
In April, Seattle’s odds of advancing to the playoffs were 0.6%. Today, that has barely gone up to 15%.
However, the Mariners not only have claimed to play above .500 for the first time since 2018, but they have a genuine chance to sneak into the postseason for the first time since 2002. In the past two decades, Seattle has been absent. longest playoff season in America’s top four professional leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL).
A half game of a playoff berth is the closest Seattle has been to the October party in 20 years. In 2003 they were three games behind the division’s top spot, behind Oakland.
It is precisely because of its great game against Oakland (11 consecutive wins and a 14-4 record on the season) that Seattle has managed to go from a record with five games under .500 on May 23 and from being 9.0 games from the first place on July 9 to be the second best club in its sector, behind only the Houston Astros (92-65).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Seattle is the first team in the modern era to win 11 straight games against an opponent who had at least 10 games over .500 in each clash.
Of all those involved in the battle for the AL wild-card spots, Seattle (-50) is the only one with a negative differential of runs scored and allowed and one of the worst in both leagues in high-scoring games. The Mariners are 11-28 in games decided by five or more runs.
However, Scott Servais’ team is 33-18 in games decided by a run. He has won nine of his last 10 and has 17 wins in the month of September.
And most importantly: With five games to go into the season, he is half a game away from the second wild card in the American League.