Somewhat lost Tuesday in his comments regarding a contract extension for general manager Jack Zduriencik, club president Kevin Mather revealed the Mariners’ strategy prior to the trade deadline.
“We are trying to get into the playoffs,” Mather said. “We would like to make the playoffs. This town, this community, they’ve been very supportive. We’d love to get into the playoffs.
“That said, the wild card is different. The new collective-bargaining system, it’s tough for wild-card teams to win now. They’ve got it stacked against you.”
The Mariners, who haven’t been in postseason since 2001, began play Wednesday with a half-game lead over Detroit in the battle for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
They were also six games behind first-place Los Angeles in the American League West.
They were further back on July 31, the morning of the non-waiver trade deadline: Three games back for the final wild-card spot and 11 games behind in the AL West.
A review: The postseason format calls for a one-game playoff between the two wild-card teams. The winner joins the three division winners in a best-of-five round. The loser goes home.
“We weren’t going to sell our souls (at the trade deadline) for a one-game, wild-card opportunity,” Mather said. “We’ve got talent here, and we’re going to be good for a long time. We truly believe that.
“We not only have young kids here, we have young kids coming. Let’s remember that. We’ve been pleasantly surprised, and now we’re fighting like heck to get into (the playoffs). Heck, we’d like to win the West.”
The Mariners acquired outfielder Austin Jackson from Detroit in a three-team deal that sent minor-league infielder Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay.
They also got outfielder Chris Denorfia from San Diego for minor-league outfielder Abraham Almonte.
Those deals came one week after the Mariners reacquired designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales from Minnesota for minor-league reliever Stephen Pryor.
The Mariners, even after Wednesday’s loss, are 17-8 since the deadline. Only Kansas City, at 19-6 prior to its game Wednesday night, is better among American League teams.
“I thought the trades were very strategic,” Mather said. “They weren’t crazy, but were strategic, and they seem to be paying off.”
The Mariners cleared roster space for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez by optioning lefty James Paxton to Triple-A Tacoma.
Ramirez started Wednesday’s game after being recalled from Tacoma.
The move regarding Paxton is little more than a clerical entry (although it will cost him a few days of service time).
Paxton isn’t scheduled to pitch until Tuesday in Oakland. Since Tacoma’s season ends Monday, he can be recalled in time to take his regular turn.
Major League rules permit rosters to expand from 25 players to 40 players on Sept. 1.
Similarly, the move does not affect Paxton’s postseason eligibility. Any player on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 is eligible for postseason.
Paxton improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.83 by pitching 6 2/3 innings Tuesday in a 5-0 victory over Texas.
It’s likely the Mariners will promote “six to nine guys” from the minors, manager Lloyd McClendon said, once rules permit the rosters to expand.
Near-certainties in addition to Paxton include recalling outfielder James Jones, activating outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart from the disabled list, and clearing space to add veteran catcher Humberto Quintero.
Other possibilities include pitchers Taijuan Walker, Lucas Luetge and Carson Smith; first baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Stefen Romero.
Outfielder Michael Saunders is still battling a viral infection that aborted his minor-league rehab assignment for a strained left oblique.
“I know he’s lost 7 or 8 pounds,” McClendon said. “We just need to get him back out there. I would imagine so.”
To be eligible for postseason, a player must be on the 40-man roster by Aug. 31. Clubs can also replace any player on the disabled list with any player who is in the organization as of Sept. 1.
That could come into play because utilityman Willie Bloomquist is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. Quintero and Smith are not currently on the 40-man roster.
McClendon headed for home in Chesterton, Ind., after Wednesday’s game in order to attend the wedding Saturday of his only daughter, Schenell.
Bench coach Trent Jewett will serve as interim manager for the games Friday and Saturday against Washington at Safeco Field. Jewett spent the three previous years on the Nationals’ staff.
McClendon hopes to return for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against Washington.
There were, entering Wednesday, just seven minor-league players with 100 or more RBIs. Three were Mariners’ prospects, and all three are closing their season at Double-A Jackson.
Third baseman D.J. Peterson ranked third overall in the minors at 104 RBIs, while infielder Patrick Kivlehan and first baseman/outfielder Jordy Lara were tied for tied for fourth at 102.
All three players began the season at Hi-A High Desert. Peterson and Kivlehan are ticketed for duty in the Arizona Fall League.
It was 13 years ago Thursday — Aug 28, 2001 — that rookie outfielder Ichiro Suzuki collected his 200th hit in what was the Mariners’ 132nd game of the season.
That matched Anaheim outfielder Darin Erstad in 2000 as the fastest player to 200 hits since St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick did it in 131 games in 1935.
Suzuki and Erstad were the fastest to do it in the American League since Al Simmons of the Philadelphia A’s reached that mark in 125 games in 1925.
Suzuki finished his rookie season with 242 hits. He set the major-league record with 262 in 2004.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before starting a three-game weekend series Friday against National League East-leading Washington at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (13-4 with a 2.07 ERA) will oppose Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (9-5, 2.93) at 7:10 p.m. Root Sports will televise the game.