The Seattle Mariners are in a dogfight for the second wild card spot in the American League. They’ve struggled of late, but help is on the way.
On July 5, the Seattle Mariners were sitting pretty. They were 24 games over .500 at 56-32, and trailed the defending World Series champion Houston Astros by just a game and a half in the American League West. They held the second wild card spot, 7.5 games ahead of the Oakland A’s.
Since then — as many predicted — Seattle has slipped. They are now just 17 games over .500, and have lost seven of their last 11 games. Even more concerning is the fact that Oakland has caught fire, winning 26 of their last 34 to surpass Seattle in the wild card race.
After a magical first half, the Mariners are reeling and in need of a spark. That spark might just be on the way. Suspended second baseman Robinson Cano began his rehab assignment Monday night with Triple-A Tacoma.
Cano was suspended on May 15 for breaking the league’s joint drug agreement. The eight-time All-Star is eligible for reinstatement with the major league club on August 14.
The timing couldn’t be any better for Seattle. For the first time since May, the Mariners’ playoff chances are in serious trouble. They now sit two games behind the surging A’s for the second wild card spot, and seem to be heading in the opposite direction.
Remarkably, Seattle sports a -18 run differential while sitting 17 games over .500. While run differential is not the unanimous measure of a team’s performance, it’s a pretty good indicator of a team’s direction.
There’s not a clear positional fit for Cano’s reinsertion to the lineup. Dee Gordon has become re-acquainted nicely with second base and the team just traded for center fielder Cameron Maybin. But the M’s rank in the league’s bottom third in runs scored. They’ll certainly welcome his bat, which put up a .287/.385/.441 line before his suspension.
If the Mariners are going to have any chance to keep pace with the A’s, they’re gonna need to start scoring some runs. And Cano is just the guy to get that show on the road.