Mariners face more questions following Dodgers series

The Mariners are swept by the Dodgers at home, leading to genuine doubts about if they have what it takes to qualify for the playoffs.

At the very least, the Mariners needed to take one game from their weekend series versus the Dodgers. Instead, the worst possible scenario played out as they were swept at home, likely leading to more soul-searching.

The Mariners had done all the hard work during a record-breaking August. They put themselves in a strong position to not only make the playoffs, but win the AL West and secure the invaluable second seed.

Unfortunately for the team and their fans, the euphoria of August has been replaced by misery in September. Following a franchise-record of 21 wins last month, the Mariners are just 5-11 so far in September.

The Mariners really have picked the worst possible time to have their poorest start to a month this season through 16 games. As a result, they now sit outside of a playoff spot as of Monday morning.

It’s a sobering thought, to realize that the only AL teams with a worse record in September are the lowly White Sox and free-falling Angels. The sweep by the Dodgers was just the third of the 2023 campaign for the Mariners.

Teamwork, but not in the positive sense

Making matters worse, there’s plenty of blame to go around. This poor run of results has been a collective effort, obviously in the negative sense.

The previously red-hot Mariners offense has gone cold, with the fifth-fewest runs in the Majors so far during September. This was particularly highlighted in the last two games of the Dodgers series, going a combined 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position and scoring a meager three runs.

If nothing else, Mariners manager Scott Servais still believes the players are trying their best. Speaking following Sunday’s series finale, he said:

“I don’t think it’s for a lack of effort. I don’t think we’re swinging at that many bad pitches. There will be one or two per at-bats that could hurt you. Sometimes you get out-executed and you get beat.”

As for the pitching staff, yes they are still tied for the best ERA in the Majors on the year, but they are just 15th to date during September. Similarly, the Mariners’ tied-second ranked WHIP on the year is tied-15th for this month.

Even Mariners rotation struggling

The starting pitching specifically, has been routinely described as the backbone of this Mariners team. In fact, it’s been called among the very best rotations in the AL, if not the Majors as a whole.

However, highlighting their own collective struggles of late, Logan Gilbert had a poor outing on Sunday when he needed one of his best. His stat line didn’t make for pretty reading, as he allowed seven hits and five earned runs in 5.0 innings.

Gilbert was under no illusion about how underwhelming he and the team were on the day. He said postgame:

“We needed this one. This was a really big game and we needed a better performance from me. It’s frustrating. Not much I can do now, (but) just try to clean it up.”

A silver lining of sorts

As much as some would perceive this as a lost opportunity to gain ground, one of the few positives was that the Astros and Rangers also struggled over the weekend. The Astros only took one of three in Kansas City, while the Rangers were swept in Cleveland.

However, even this is tempered somewhat, by the Blue Jays sweeping the Red Sox at home. The sum result is the Mariners are now one game out of the final AL wild card spot and 2.5 games back of the AL West lead.

The Mariners completed their homestand a poor 2-4, unable to leave Seattle on a positive note. Servais said:

“Disappointing way to finish the homestand, for sure. Today you’re hoping to get out on them early and get some runs and momentum early in the game, and we were unable to do that.”

Entering the home stretch

The Mariners will now travel to Oakland to play three games versus the Athletics. You would expect them to take at least two of three, but this is merely the prelude for the stretch run.

There’s little doubt the Mariners’ road to the playoffs is a treacherous one. The final 10 games of the season will see them play seven versus the Rangers and three against the Astros.

Moving forward, Servais maintains faith in his team, but is realistsic about the challenge they face. He said:

“We have 13 games to go. I talked to our team last night after (Saturday’s) game and I feel very strongly about it, (that) we are going to play October baseball. It is not going to be easy to get there.”

As the saying goes, the road to success if often paved with failures. Mariners fans can only hope the failures of September are now at an end, otherwise any future success will be pushed further down the road.

Assuming the Mariners at least win the Athletics series, how confident are you in their ability to secure a playoff spot? More specifically, do you predict they will win enough of their remaining 10 games versus the Rangers and Astros to qualify? Let us know in the comments section below.

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