The Mariners and Rangers wrapped up their three-game series on Wednesday afternoon, a series that ended with a 12-4 win for Texas (box score). The Rangers, who are firmly in "playing spoiler" mode, took two of three from the Mariners in Seattle.
The loss dropped the Mariners to 72-60 on the season and they remain a half-game up on the Tigers for the second wild-card spot. They were one game up on Detroit when the series against the Rangers started, but they were in danger of falling a half-game back had the Tigers managed to beat the Yankees on Wednesday (NY 8, DET 4).
Now, a half-game deficit would have been nothing with a month left in the season, but this week was definitely a missed opportunity for the Mariners. The Rangers are simply awful, sporting baseball's worst record at 52-80 following Wednesday's win. These are the series a contending team circles on the calender because it represents a perfect chance to pad the win total.
Instead, the Mariners dropped two of three to the Rangers. This one series by itself is not a huge deal, but Texas has been an ongoing problem for the Mariners in 2014. Seattle is now 6-9 against their division rivals this year even though the rest of the league is 74-43 against the Rangers. Not beating the worst team in baseball in the middle of a wild-card race is no way to make life easy on yourself.
The old baseball adage says you're supposed to hold your own against the good teams and beat up on the bad teams if you want to contend. That's not really the case anymore because every team is a bad team these days. Or at least that's how it feels sometimes. The league's parity means there are few truly great teams, few truly terrible teams and many in the middle. Mediocrity defined, really.
Nowadays you have to play well against just about everyone to get into the postseason and that is especially true against bad teams like Texas. Consider that six of those nine losses to the Rangers came by no more than two runs. If only half of them had been wins, the Mariners would be 75-57 with a comfortable three-game lead over the Tigers in the wild-card race. Any team can beat any team on any given day in this league, but geez.
Going 6-9 against the Rangers is not the end of the world for the Mariners but they have made things a little more difficult for themselves these next few weeks by not taking care of business against the bad team. The unbalanced schedule gives them a distinct advantage over Detroit thanks to 38 total games against the Astros and Rangers, but the Mariners have been unable to capitalize against Texas so far. They would be way ahead in the wild-card race if they had.