Here’s what an eight-game win streak does for you
What exactly does an eight-game win streak do for a team in mid-August? For the Mariners, it’s certainly put some spark back into a season that now has a far better feel to it heading into the final six weeks.
It’s a stretch to say the Mariners are suddenly contending for a wildcard berth, but it’s not wrong to say they’re at least putting themselves into the conversation.
After losing to Tampa Bay 4-1 on Aug. 13, the Mariners were 53-64, 15 1/2 games back of front-running Texas in the AL West and 10 games out of a playoff berth, needing to jump seven teams to get into the final wildcard spot.
At that point, they were 12th among the 14 AL teams in winning percentage and 23rd out of the 30 MLB teams overall.
Fast forward to today, in the wake of the eight-game streak that is the longest by a Mariners team since they won eight in a row from June 23-July 1, 2007.
Now the Mariners find themselves at 61-64, 12 back of first-place Texas in the West and 6 1/2 out of a wildcard berth following Oakland’s loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. Significantly, they have leapfrogged three teams in the wildcard hunt and now have just three more between them and the final wildcard berth.
Here are the wildcard standings, which are getting wild indeed with three teams tied now for the second spot in the AL.
In their eight-game streak, the Mariners moved up to ninth in the AL and 17th in the Majors in winning percentage. Bad news for getting a top draft pick, but good news if you’re a fan of progress.
The Mariners outscored the Rays, Twins and Indians by a combined 30-13 in the eight-game streak, which means pitching again was the primary reason for success. But the key for Seattle clearly is getting enough offense to go with its pitching and defense and, indeed, some bats warmed up enough to make that happen.
Newcomer Eric Thames has hit .400 (10-of-25) with two home runs and seven RBIs during the winning streak. Michael Saunders provided pop by batting .333 (9-of-27) with four home runs and seven RBIs.
Dustin Ackley remains a huge key to this team’s long-term success and he showed why with a .344 stretch (11-for-32) over the past eight games.
The Mariners hope now to keep the mojo going as they travel to Chicago for three games this weekend against the AL Central-leading White Sox, followed by four in Minnesota. Whether they’re really going to make noise in the wildcard race will be a lot more evident after these next seven games.
But one thing we already know for sure. This season clearly is a solid step forward from last year’s 67-95 performance. Just how big a step will be determined by these final six weeks.