Can a contending team completely torpedo its playoff chances in the span of August's last nine days? It looks like we have our answer in the form of the 2016 Seattle Mariners. The last two days may have been the most demoralizing, when they lost a heartbreaker followed by Wednesday's blowout in a game that started with their ace on the hill.

Let's take a look at how this all unfolded.

The Rise

The Mariners were lingering around in contention for most of the season. After a total collapse on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball against the Cubs on July 31 and then a one-run loss to the Red Sox on Aug. 1, the Mariners were 52-52 and a fringe contender, at best.

Then things started to click. They took two of the final three against the Red Sox to salvage a split before running off six straight wins, including a three-game sweep over fellow wild-card hopeful Detroit. A few losses were mixed in, but overall from Aug. 2 through Aug. 22, the Mariners went 15-5 and climbed to within just one game of the second AL wild-card spot. They were even within striking range of the Rangers in the AL West, sitting 5 1/2 out.

Most projections sites out there had the Mariners climbing up to around a 50 percent chance to make the playoffs at this point (, for example, had them at 45.2 percent).

The Fall

Since then, it's been a whole lot of losing for the Mariners.

They were outscored 10-1 in the last two games of their series against the Yankees. They lost three of four to the non-contending White Sox and that included a walk-off loss and a blowout. And they have now been swept by the Rangers.

The gut punch came on Tuesday night, when the Mariners battled back from a 4-0 deficit with All-Star Cole Hamels on the hill to take a 6-4 lead in the fifth. They would lose that lead but again get it back with a Robinson Cano sac fly in the eighth.

But then this happened against previously-perfect rookie closer Edwin Diaz:

That's a two-run dagger. Following this game, the SportsLine model gave the Mariners just 2.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

It seemed to carry over to Wednesday's matinee, as the Rangers got to Felix Hernandez for six runs in four innings, five of which came in the fourth. The final would end up a 14-1 rout that felt like more "nail in the coffin" than a demoralizer.

Moving Forward

So once the projection figures are released Thursday morning, we can expect that to fall below 2 percent, I would guess.

Now, it could be worse. With the Orioles los on Wednesday night, the Mariners are still within four games of the second AL wild card.

Of course, the Mariners were once right on the tail of the second spot; now they would have to leap over the Yankees, Royals and Astros just to get a shot at the Orioles and Tigers (who are now tied). Remember, the Red Sox are two up on the O's and Tigers for the top wild card and we still have three division winners above this.

Second AL wild-card race

TeamRecordGames back

There's a lot of cross-over, head-to-head action in there, so it's not like the Mariners can just count on all those teams to lose.

On that front, however, the most optimistic of Mariners fans can cling to some hope. They have six games left against the Astros and three against the Blue Jays -- who are leading the AL East, but could conceivably fall down during head-to-heads with the Orioles and Red Sox. The pessimistic fans might point out that those games -- along with four more against the Rangers -- will be tough victories, especially given how the Mariners are playing right now.

They do have 13 games left against the Angels and A's, though the Mariners have only gone 14-11 against that duo so far this season. That won't cut it. The M's also have three against the Twins left, but were swept by the Twins earlier this year.

Basically, as things stand, the situation looks dire in Seattle for the 2016 season. Had they not fallen apart these last nine days, they could have been holding onto one of the playoff spots, too.

MLB streak of drought-breaking over?

If the Mariners don't get really hot and make that unlikely playoff run, it'll end a bit of a fun streak for Major League Baseball.

2013: Pirates break longest streak of losing seasons in all of pro sports; make playoffs
2014: Royals break longest MLB playoff drought
2015: Blue Jays break longest MLB playoff drought

The longest remaining playoff drought belongs to the Mariners.

I refuse to count the Mariners out. They could still get really hot while a lot of the other AL contenders beat up on each other. It's possible. It's just a big-time long-shot now, shortly after when the chances were starting to get pretty good.

What a difference nine days makes in baseball. Just ask the Mariners.