Scoreboard Watching: Rangers and Mariners face off this weekend after series wins
Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack2 months ago
Imagine an older sibling holding something up in the air that the younger sibling wants, but the younger one just can’t reach it. “It” in this case is a playoff spot, and the older sibling is the Toronto Blue Jays and/or whichever AL West Wild Card team holds the final playoff spot at that current time.
Who’s going to be tall enough to secure a playoff spot in the end?
Seattle beats up on the American League’s punching bag – the Oakland A’s
Since late August, the Oakland A’s have mainly been facing off against teams in the mix for a playoff spot. Whether it has been the Mariners (twice), Rangers, Blue Jays, Astros, or Padres, the A’s have had their opportunities to play spoiler in the American League Wild Card race.
This week, Seattle had very little issue with the A’s, winning all three games against them by a combined score of 18-5. After returning from the IL a couple of weeks ago, the Mariners are hoping Jarred Kelenic can supply a boost to their offence. The Mariners already have a top-10 offence in baseball in runs per game, but their fellow American League competitors outside of Toronto all average more runs per game than they do. Kelenic was finally tapping into his offensive potential in April and May, and Seattle is hoping he can get back to that level for the final stretch of the season.
If Seattle gets in the playoffs, they have a preferable 1-2-3 lineup of pitchers that lines up well for a Wild Card series. Luis Castillo, George Kirby, and Logan Gilbert are all within the top 12 of the American League in terms of ERA, and they figure to get the nod for a WC round.
The Rangers continue to beat up on AL East foes
Texas has been such a perplexing team to grasp an understanding on. One week they look unbeatable, the next week they look like their season is over. This week was a good one for them, as they took two of three from the Red Sox, thereby eliminating Boston from playoff contention.
This series win brought Texas’ record against AL East opponents to 20-12, which is the best record in that category amongst all AL Central or AL West teams. In fact, Texas has more wins (20) against the AL East than Toronto does (17). The Rangers have a youngster back in their lineup just like Seattle does; rookie Josh Jung is patrolling the hot corner again, returning from the IL this week. In his first series back, Jung was 5-for-14 with a home run and 3 RBIs, including a clutch two-run single on Tuesday night that gave Texas the lead for good in the 7th inning.
Offensive firepower has always been Texas’ strong suit this season, and Jung’s return will only enhance that throughout the final weeks of the season. He was a Rookie of the Year candidate before his injury after all, and any standout performances towards the end of the year may help his case.
Houston is hanging onto the AL West lead by a thread
After clinching their first playoff berth since 2016, Baltimore showed no hangover in Houston this week by taking two of three from the Astros. If it wasn’t for Mauricio Dubon and Jeremy Pena’s clutch hits late in Wednesday’s game, the Astros would’ve been staring at a sweep.
After allowing a game-losing three-run homer to Cedric Mullins on Monday, closer Ryan Pressly bounced back on Wednesday by retiring Baltimore in order in the 9th inning to set up Dubon’s walk-off hit. We’d be having a very different conversation had they lost that game, as the Astros are now only a 0.5 game up on the Mariners and Rangers, who are tied for the final Wild Card spot.
Houston boasts a favourable Wild Card starting pitcher lineup of their own with Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander, but after that, it gets a little dicey. Perhaps they will find the best candidate for that third starter with games of heavier magnitude coming up.
The inter-division matchups start this weekend with the Rangers and Mariners squaring off for a three-game series. Facing the lowly Royals this weekend, Houston would probably like to kick their feet up with little worry and watch Texas and Seattle battle it out. However, they are only a few days removed from losing two of three to Kansas City, so this won’t be as easy as they’re hoping.
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