POLL RESULTS: M’s have challenge catching either Astros or A’s

Voters think Seattle has an equal chance of catching Houston and Oakland, but more likely neither.

Who do the readers believe the Seattle Mariners have the best chance of catching in the American League West? Well, there’s not a ton of optimism about the Mariners’ prospects of catching anyone.

This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll concerned the Mariners’ playoff chances. Developments over last weekend changed the landscape so that Seattle, while still being a short distance behind, had two teams to chase in the race for a playoff spot. A swoon by the division-leading Houston Astros, allowing the Oakland Athletics to essentially catch them, gave the Mariners two teams within reach. At the start of the week Seattle was 3.5 games behind Oakland and 4.5 games behind Houston.

Therefore, in this week’s poll we asked voters which team they thought the Mariners were most likely to catch. Here’s how you voted:

Add them together and 40 percent of the responders said the Mariners’ best chance was to catch neither Houston or Oakland. The voters who picked one of the teams were essentially evenly split, with Houston and Oakland each receiving 23 percent of the vote — the Astros received one more vote than the A’s. Fourteen percent of the voters have the high hopes of Seattle catching both teams.

So what happened during the week to change the situation? Not much positive from Seattle’s standpoint. The Mariners dropped two of three at home against Houston, so Seattle is now 5.5 games behind the Astros. Oakland won two of three against Texas, then dropped their opener against Minnesota, meaning the Mariners are now four games behind the A’s. So Seattle lost a little ground.

Time is starting to run out on the Mariners. Seattle has played 128 games, meaning the Mariners have just 34 games remaining with which to make up the difference, beginning with this weekend’s three-game series at National League West-leading Arizona.

The good news for Seattle is that the Mariners still have plenty of head-to-head games remaining against the teams they’re pursuing. The Mariners have seven games left against Oakland and three against Houston, so they can help themselves out considerably — Seattle is 8-8 against the Astros this season and 7-5 against Oakland. The fact Seattle has more games remaining against the A’s may make Oakland a better candidate for catching, especially given there’s 1.5 fewer games that need to be made up.

But the Mariners need to get things in gear if they want to end their 16-year playoff drought.

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