Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t win the next two series against the division rival Mariners. Don’t even begin to think that I have any sort of empathy for their playoff drought or their underdog status or the fact that Seattle is responsible for some incredible music. The Angels desperately need to win these games and make their run at a slumping Athletics club while they have the chance.
They should not, however, sweep both series.
The immediate ramifications would be glorious of course. The Mariners’ playoff hopes would be all but entirely dashed as they fall 5 games behind the Angels at the very least. With the A’s seemingly likely to go somewhere in the vicinity of 4-2 in their stretch against the last place Rangers and plummeting Indians, the Halos will make up 2 crucial games of the 4.5 they are behind going into a 2-game set against Oakland. They might even have some magical thing called momentum on their side. Frankly, it’s obvious why the thought would be tantalizing.
Now let’s take a breath for a second and consider the long term. With their 8th loss in their last 9 games, the Mariners will have dropped 2 games below .500. After 2 games in Colorado where the Rockies sport a 31-17 home record, superior to every team in the American League but the White Sox, it wouldn’t exactly be unreasonable to assume that the Mariners are going to sell. With the Mariners moving several of their aging and overperforming pieces that we’ve come to know and despise—not to us, mind you—Seattle sinks to typical Seattle levels and breaks apart. All seems swell for a good minute or two.
Now the Halos have the opportunity to beat up on a weakling team with no real assets for the rest of the season. But wait—what happened to all of our opportunities? The only two series that we have against Seattle rest of season come in the last 9 games of the year.
Meanwhile, Houston has 12 games left to play and Oakland 13 against a suddenly barren Pacific Northwest team that intends to have their real window open up in 2022. The Angels have now singlehandedly gifted two additional series against a tanking team to the rivals with which they areso desperately battling.
5-1 and 4-2 in the next 6 games do not lose enough games to make this point moot. A Mariners squad fighting tooth and nail in vain in 6-7 more games against Oakland and Houston than they have against us is not to be underestimated. This is all before I even mention the fact that the Mariners also play a full 3-4 games against every single AL East contender between August and September. Having one fewer tanking team matters more than ever to us down the stretch.
If the Mariners lose just 1 game over the next 6, they are at .500. If they lose merely 2, we still probably maintain our current favorable position relative to the A’s. These sorts of mind games will be absolutely critical to our postseason run.
This may seem like a joke, but the Angels need middling teams in tough divisions like the Mariners, Yankees, and Blue Jays to continue to scratch away at more winning ones like an animal backed into a corner just like they need the Angels to do the same. The moment the borderline teams start hard-selling is the moment that the rest of a division runs away with the playoffs. The Angels won’t have enough advantageous resources, Seattle games, left relative to the A’s and Astros to take advantage of this. In short, they literally cannot afford to sweep the Mariners twice in July.