As the Mariners prepared to play their 141st game of the season Friday evening at T-Mobile Park, they sat just two games back of the New York Yankees for the second wild-card spot. While being two games back with 21 games to play gives them and their fans something more than hope when it comes to snapping a postseason drought dating to 2001, it’s important to note that the wild-card race is a muddled mess that can and will shift on a daily basis.
Despite having multiple players out due to COVID-19, the Red Sox (80-62) hold the first wild-card spot over the Yankees (78-62) by one game coming into Friday. The surging Blue Jays, who just swept New York in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium, sit a half-game back of that second wild-card spot. Meanwhile, the Mariners (76-64) and A’s (76-64) are both two games back of the Yankees.
Let the chaos begin.
Besides the daily scoreboard watching, a recheck of the remaining schedules for each team seemed prudent.
Red Sox: 80-62 overall (44-29 home/36-33 road)
- 20 games remaining: (9 home/11 road)
- Opponent combined winning percentage: .460
Of note: By winning percentage, Boston has the easiest schedule of remaining games. That’s a product of playing the abysmal Orioles (45-94) six more times and the Nationals (58-83) in three games. The Sox are 9-4 against Baltimore this season. After this weekend’s series at the White Sox, the Red Sox arrive Monday in Seattle for a three-game series. Boston finishes the season with a six-game road trip — three at Baltimore and three in D.C.
Yankees: 78-62 overall (40-31 home/38-31 road)
- 22 games remaining (12 home/10 road)
- Opponent combined winning percentage: .489
Of note: The Yankees might have 12 home games, but the four three-game series are against teams at over .500 — the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Indians. Meanwhile their 10 road games are all against teams with losing records, including this weekend’s three-game interleague series at Citi Field vs. the Mets, a three-game series at Baltimore, a three-game series at Texas (51-88) and a make-up game vs. the Twins (62-78). The Yankees’ season finishes with a difficult nine-game stretch, starting with a three-game series at Fenway Park and a three-game series in Toronto. They end the season with a three-game series vs. the Rays (88-52).
Blue Jays: 77-62 overall (39-29 home/38-33 road)
- 23 games remaining (9 home/14 road)
- Opponent combined winning percentage: .470
Of note: Having spent most of their season on the road, playing their initial home games in Dunedin, Florida, and later Buffalo, New York, they finally are playing in Toronto. They have home and road series vs. the Rays and a three-game home series vs. the Yankees. But they also have seven games vs. Baltimore and Minnesota on the schedule, including the Orioles for the last three games of the season.
Mariners: 76-64 overall (40-29 home/36-35 road)
- 22 games remaining (10 home/12 road)
- Opponent combined winning percentage: .489
Of note: The Mariners have 12 games vs. teams with a sub-.500 record, including this series with the Diamondbacks, who are the worst team in the National League. They also have a three-game series at Kansas City and a road and home series with the Angels. Though the last time they played the Royals, they lost three of four at home. Perhaps the best aspect of their remaining schedule is that they don’t have any more games with the Astros at Minute Maid Park. They close the season with a three-game series vs. the A’s and three-game series vs. the Angels at T-Mobile, where they’ve been outstanding this season.
Athletics: 76-64 overall (39-32 home/37-32 road)
- 22 games remaining (13 home/9 road)
- Opponent combined winning percentage: .510
Of note: They have the most difficult remaining schedule with seven games vs. the Mariners and six with the Astros. In a weird scheduling oddity, those 13 games end their season, including a three-game series at T-Mobile Park followed by a three-game series at Minute Maid Park to end the regular season. They probably need to come out of this weekend’s series vs. the Rangers followed by three at Kansas City and three at the Angels with a solid record to have a chance.
Jake Fraley (right shoulder inflammation) took batting practice before Friday’s game. He’s expected to start a rehab assignment Saturday with Tacoma. He is expected to be a designated hitter Saturday, play in the outfield Sunday and activate from the injured list before Monday’s game against Boston.
Fraley injured his shoulder Aug. 27 in the series vs. the Royals, colliding with the wall. He first had issues with the shoulder in 2017 on a swing.
While the shoulder still bothers him on certain swings, he was informed by the team’s medical staff that returning to action won’t make the shoulder any worse or do any further damage.