Seattle Mariners

Mariners admit they’re scoreboard-watching as season winds down

Are you scoreboard-watching as the Seattle Mariners seek to reach the playoffs for the first time in 13 years?

The Mariners are.

“It’s hard to avoid it when it’s right in front of your eyes,” second baseman Robinson Cano said. “And it’s a big one here at Safeco (Field). You don’t have to go inside to watch it. It’s right in front of your eyes.

“So, sure, you watch how other teams are doing.”

The Mariners entered their final open date of the season Thursday in need of a reset after successive losses to Houston. That left them one-half game behind the Detroit Tigers for the American League’s final wild-card spot.

“I don’t think you’re doing the team any justice, or yourself,” third baseman Kyle Seager said, “if you dwell on (the losses) for too long. It’s a good time for an off-day (Thursday).

“Kind of regroup, and come back for a big series (against the Oakland Athletics) this weekend.”

The A’s arrive for the weekend at Safeco with a 11/2-game lead over the Mariners for the top wild-card spot after losing to the White Sox on Thursday in Chicago.

Friday’s series opener, when James Paxton faces Oakland’s Jason Hammel, a graduate of South Kitsap High School, will start the Mariners (79-66) on a stretch of 17 games in 17 days to conclude the regular season.

“We still control our own destiny,” first baseman Logan Morrison said. “If we continue to take care of business, win series, we’ll be fine.”

An overview of the AL postseason race essentially shows four clubs chasing three available spots because the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels entered Thursday with leads of 10 and nine games in their divisions.

Only a nuclear collapse will keep the Orioles or Angels out of postseason.

The Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees remain on the fringe of wild-card contention. They range between 31/2 to 41/2 games behind the Tigers, prior to Thursday’s games, for the final wild-card spot.

That’s not an impossible gap, certainly, but it’s a lot to make up, and a lot of clubs to pass, in 21/2 weeks. For now, most of the scoreboard-watching concerns four clubs: Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit and Seattle.

“I was there quite a while ago,” manager Lloyd McClendon admitted. “You remember the (Erasmo) Ramirez game when I pulled him after 41/3 (shutout innings)? Detroit had lost (the day before).

“I said, ‘This is a must-win.’ That played a lot into that decision.”

That was Aug. 10.

The Mariners, as a West Coast club, often start a game knowing what the other contenders have done — although that won’t be true for parts of an upcoming 11-game trip that includes stops in Houston and Toronto.

Cano contends that knowledge isn’t a plus.

“Another team wins,” he said, “and it puts pressure on you to win. It’s easier to just go play when the other team has to play after you.

“Like (Monday), Detroit won (in the afternoon). We knew that. All they had to do is go home and hope we lose.

“But us, we have to go out and win. You start thinking, ‘We really have to win this one because we don’t want them to go ahead of us.’ ”

The Mariners won Monday but lost Tuesday and Wednesday to Houston when a victory either night would have enabled them to hold onto (or regain) the lead in the wild-card chase.

Entering Thursday, Detroit trailed Kansas City by one game in the Central Division, but the margin is likely slimmer than that.

The Royals must resume a suspended game next week in Cleveland in which they trail by two runs with three outs to go. Barring a Kansas City comeback, they’ll lose one-half game in relation to the other contenders.

As it was, entering Thursday, the A’s, Royals, Tigers and Mariners were all grouped within two games of one another.

Four clubs, three spots.

Scoreboard-watching is irresistible.

MINOR DETAILS

Double-A Jackson of the Southern League will remain a Mariners affiliate through 2016 after reaching agreement on a two-year extension of its player-development contract.

The deal mirrors a recent move by the Mariners to extend their agreement with low Single-A Clinton of the Midwest League by two years, through 2016.

The Mariners’ contract with Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League also extends through 2016, but their deal with high Single-A High Desert of the California League expires at the end of the current season.

Jackson became a Mariners affiliate in 2007 and lists 47 former players who subsequently played for the Mariners, including 18 on the big-league club’s current roster.

ON TAP

The Mariners return from their final open date of the season to begin a three-game weekend series against Oakland at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field.

Left-hander Paxton (5-2, 1.87 ERA) will oppose Oakland’s right-hander Hammel (2-5, 4.70 ERA). Root Sports will televise the game.

After completing the series, the Mariners depart Monday on their last road trip: 11 games (four at Los Angeles, three at Houston and four at Toronto) before closing the season with three home games against the Angels.

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