Seattle Mariners – All Hands On Deck In The American League West

Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz hits a three-run home run in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The American League West is the place to be.

Let us start in the middle. The American League Central Division is currently being led by the Cleveland Indians who, as of this writing, have a 17-17 record. The Twins and the Tigers are following closely behind the Indians at 2 and 2.5 games respectively.

This is not the epitome of competition. The Indians are one game away from being sub-.500. The division as a whole has been held back by injuries and weather. They are competing amongst themselves, surely, for the playoff spot their division bestows upon the leader. But when it comes to playing teams outside of their division, teams in the AL Central have not been able to make the cut, winning only 17 games and losing 37 games against teams in the West and the East.

The East, on the other hand, has been dominated by the Red Sox and the Yankees, each having won at least 24 of their first 34 games played. The Red Sox are currently in first place with the Yankees trailing by only a single game. In their rivalrous battling for the division lead, both teams have been able to gain a significant lead ahead of their divisional counterparts, pulling ahead of the Blue Jays and the Rays and completely obliterating the Orioles, who are 8-26 on the season.

This has created an AL East division that is completely top-heavy. Though the season is young, one can assess that the division lead will go to either Boston or New York, since both teams have such a stellar record to start the season. The first wild card spot in the American League will go to whichever of the two powerhouses is not on top.

Which leads to the American League West Division, current residence of the Seattle Mariners. Because of the intensity and sheer win percentages the Red Sox and the Yankees have brought to their division, and the lackluster performances of the Central, the West is by far the most competitive division in the American league.

The West has the reigning World Series Champion Astros, whose pitching has been devastatingly superb. The West has, arguably, the best players in baseball. The West has four of five teams that theoretically have a chance at a postseason berth. It is because of this that the Mariners need to take an all hands on deck approach to the next part of the season.

As of this writing, the Angels currently lead the division with a record of 21-13 on the season. The Astros also have 21 wins, but with 15 losses, they’ve managed to fall to second place. The Mariners are in third, trailing only by 1.5 games. The A’s are trailing first place by only three games after sweeping the Orioles this weekend.

Other than the Rangers, each team has a reasonable chance at being on top. Next week these standings can be completely flipped. It is that close. And with a Wild Card spot almost guaranteed (despite the sample size) to either the Red Sox or the Yankees, each team in the AL West is contending for either the division lead, or the second Wild Card spot.

So far, the Mariners have faced each of their divisional counterparts at least once. They are 9-7 against teams in their division, which is in line with the Astros, who are 8-6. Though they are above .500 against their division, the wrath of the Angels is strong. After defeating the Mariners in two out of three games this weekend, the Angels’ record against the division stands at 12-3.

The Mariners have only lost two series this season, each of those losses coming from the two teams that are above them in the AL West standings. The M’s have been crafty in their contact, scoring runs in necessary situations and combining small and long ball, but have struggled when opponents take early leads. They need to reassess their approach in these scenarios. Such as they did in their only win against the Angels.

After being down by four runs, the Mariners managed to score in the sixth and eighth innings and took a two-run lead into the ninth. The Angels tied, and began a battle that would last until the eleventh, with each team scoring in each extra inning.

The Mariners, when cornered, when their backs were to the wall, managed to come back and fight for a win. In those innings, they took pitches, they waited to make good contact, relievers kept the ball on the ground. That strategic desperation is what allowed them to take a win in the end.

The Mariners need to see that when push comes to shove, they have the ability to make do with what they have. They will struggle and they will fall as they always have, but this team has what it takes to pick themselves up again. It will not be easy, not against this division, but if they can win against the Angels with the circumstances they faced, even if it was only one game, the M’s have more than just a dying chance at a postseason berth.

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About Mario Martin del Campo 9 Articles
Mario Martin del Campo is a writer who focuses on all aspects of baseball, be they metric analytics or interesting narratives to consider. He writes with a particular emphasis on the Seattle Mariners. He hopes to entertain readers by combining his love of literature, statistics, and intricate baseball nuances. He can be found on twitter @Mario_Md