The second half of the 2014 Mariners season begins Friday, as does the fight to avoid the fate of the 2013 Rangers.
At the All-Star break last season, the Rangers were 13 games over .500 with a two-game lead over Baltimore for the second wild-card spot. The Rangers were solid in the second half, going 37-31, but were overtaken by the red-hot Indians, who went 41-26. Cleveland was three games back at the break but forced Tampa Bay and Texas into a playoff for the second wild card. The Rangers lost the game and their 2013 postseason hopes.
Math will be the Mariners' friend to start the second half of the season. The Royals and Blue Jays are the closest teams to Seattle, both sitting 2.5 games back for the second wild-card spot. If the Mariners play near-.500 baseball (34-33) the rest of the way, they will end the season with an 85-77 record. Kansas City would need to at least go 38-30 to pass them. The Yankees and Indians would need a record of at least 39-29. If the Mariners go 37-30 in the second half, Kansas City would need to go 41-27.
The Mariners will immediately be tested out of the gates to start the second half. Thirteen of their first 16 games will pit them directly against American League wild-card competitors. They play the Angels and Indians three times apiece and the Orioles seven times.
At the beginning of June, I wrote about the opportunity the Mariners had to put together a stellar month. They came through with a fantastic 18-10 mark. They are 6-6 so far in July, but maintaining a .500 record through the beginning of August will be the key this time around given their competition.
• Angels, 57-37 (3 games)
• Mets, 45-50 (3 games)
• Orioles, 52-42 (7 games)
• Indians, 47-47 (3 games)
The Mariners return home after a six-game road trip to Baltimore and Cleveland to enjoy an off-day on Aug. 4. There is a good chance the Mariners will ride the roller coaster for the next few weeks, but maintaining their playoff grip to Aug. 4 will be a major milestone for their ultimate playoff goal.