Let’s do what the Mariners aren’t quite ready to do yet (at least publicly): Look ahead to possible tiebreaker scenarios to qualify for the American League’s Wild Card game.
This much is clear:
The Mariners are well-positioned in any potential tiebreaker scenario because they hold head-to-head advantages over the other primary Wild Card contenders.
The basics for a two-team tie:
• If the Mariners tie one other club for the two wild-card berths, they would play host to the Wild Card game on Sept. 30 at Safeco Field.
• If the Mariners tie one other club for the second Wild Card berth, they would play host to a play-in game on Sept. 29 at Safeco Field. If they won, the would play Sept. 30 on the road in the Wild Card game.
It gets trickier if there is a three-way tie for the two spots or a three-way tie for the second spot because the first tiebreaker is combined head-to-head records of all clubs involved.
Still, the Mariners hold advantages in all likely scenarios.
If three teams are tied for the second spot, the Mariners would get to choose between two options:
• Opt for a bye and force the other two clubs to play Sept. 29. The Mariners would then play a road game Sept. 30 at the winner of that previous game for the right to play in the Wild Card game.
• Choose to play host to a Sept. 29 game against one of the other clubs and, if they win, play host on Sept. 30 to the club that got a bye. That Sept. 30 winner would advance to the Wild Card game.
So the trade-off is this: If the Mariners opt for a bye, they have to win a game on the road to qualify for the Wild Card game. The alternative is choosing to try to win two games at home.
If three teams tie for the two spots, the Mariners would again get to choose between two options:
• Opt to play host to a Sept. 29 game against one of the other clubs. That winner would qualify for the Wild Card game. That loser would play on the road Sept. 30 at the club getting a bye to determine the other other qualifier.
• Opt for a bye Sept. 29 and then play host Sept. 30 to the loser of the Sept. 29 game for the right to qualify.
That seems a simpler choice. By opting to play Sept. 29, the Mariners would have two chances to qualify for the Wild Card game — first, at home; then, if they lose, on the road.
The alternative is a one-game shot, at home, to qualify.
FOR THE RECORD
Fernando Rodney took sole possession of the Mariners’ record for saves in a season when he got No. 46 by closing out Thursday’s victory over the Angels in Anaheim.
Kazuhiro Sasaki had 45 saves in 2001.
Rodney needs three saves in the Mariners’ final 10 games to break his personal record of 48 in 2012 at Tampa Bay. He also has a chance to lead the majors in saves for the first time in his career.
St. Louis’ Trevor Rosenthal and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel are tied for lead in the National League with 44 saves, while Kansas City’s Greg Holland ranks second in the American League with 42.
No Mariners reliever has ever led the AL in saves.
ON A ROLL
Logan Morrison’s three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday snapped a 17-inning scoreless streak for the Mariners that dated to the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Angels.
“I know it’s been a struggle for us offensively …,” he said. “I just know that we’re in a race, and we need every win we can get, need every hit we can get and every run we can get.
“That’s what happened. When I swung the bat, we got a hit. I got a homer, and we got three runs.”
Morrison had two of the Mariners’ six hits Thursday and is batting .311 (42-for-135) in 42 games since July 29. That boosted his overall average to .251 going into Friday’s series opener at Houston.
The jump in average is nice, but McClendon wants pop from his first baseman — the kind of pop that Morrison delivered Thursday against Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen.
“He starting to do what we’ve asked him to do,” McClendon said, “and that’s drive in runs. Everybody talks about hitting streaks, but I’m not concerned about hitting streaks.
“I’m concerned with RBIs and runs scored.”
Morrison has 16 RBIs and 21 runs in his 42-game surge. That has his season totals up to 33 and 34.
The Mariners, by winning Thursday at Anaheim, improved to 82-70 with 10 games remaining and clinched their first winning season since finishing 85-77 in 2009. … Rookie shortstop Chris Taylor has at least one hit in 25 of his 33 starts and is batting .305 (32-for-105) in those games. … Robinson Cano needs one more RBI to reach 900 for his career. … By winning Thursday, the Mariners have still not lost road games in back-to-back days since June 18-19 at San Diego.
It was 18 years ago Saturday — Sept. 20, 1996 — that the Mariners stretched their winning streak to a then-club-record 10 games with a 9-2 victory over Oakland at the Kingdome.
The Mariners hit five homers in the game, including back-to-back-to-back blasts by Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez in the third inning against A’s starter Dave Teigheder.
The 10-game streak remained the club record until the 2001 club won 15 in a row from May 23 to June 8.
The Mariners and Astros continue their three-game series at 4:10 p.m. Pacific time Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Chris Young (12-8 with a 3.33 ERA) will oppose Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel (11-9, 3.00). Root Sports will televise the game.
The series concludes at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time Sunday. They Mariners then head to Toronto for four games before returning next weekend to Safeco Field for three games against the Los Angeles Angels.