For the Seattle Mariners, the team with the longest playoff drought in Major League Baseball, their late season oasis has once again dissipated as nothing more than a mirage. Just as they have for the last 15 years, the Mariners will miss the 2016 MLB Playoffs after a 9-8 extra inning loss to the woeful Oakland Athletics late Saturday night.
Safeco Field under the sun.
Before Iwakuma’s awful 3rd inning, and before the 11 runners stranded on base, the writing was appearing on the wall. With three teams vying for the chance to play baseball in October, the Mariners needed a win and a little help from some friends. They got neither. The Red Sox couldn’t mount a comeback on the Blue Jays, who snatched the last Wildcard spot with the Mariners loss, eliminating Seattle from the playoffs. Alive until the last series in the season, the M’s faltered once more.
King Felix will again take the mound in a meaningless 162nd and final game of what started as a promising season. The Mariners were a team with high hopes and a new feel, but it was not to be. However, just like in 2014, it’s not all bad news. The Mariners 2015 offseason was both cathartic and challenging. After finally dispelling Jack Zduriencik and the shadow of his seven years of mediocrity, the Mariners hired GM Jerry Dipoto who in turn hired new skipper Scott Servais from Anaheim.
Knowing their team did not need to rebuild, Dipoto and Servais simply went about creating a supporting cast and chemistry to complement the stars already producing on the roster.
Those stars did produce—Robinson Cano led the team with a .299 batting average, and Nelson Cruz contributed a team high 42 home runs and 105 RBIs. Even though Iwakuma had a tough weekend, his numbers through the season were solid, winning 16 games and posting a 4.12 ERA.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Mariners won 85 or more games for only the third time since 2008. Not making the playoffs for 15 years is painful, but for new management, a 20-game swing is reason to be hopeful.
So once again, the lights will go out on baseball in SoDo until next March. Maybe next year will be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
Les may be reached at