Mariners enter crucial seven-game stretch

Mariners enter crucial seven-game stretch

ARLINGTON -- The Mariners entered Thursday night's series opener against the Rangers just a half-game behind the Tigers for the second American League Wild Card berth. And Seattle may have an opportunity to move up in the standings if they take care of business against the AL's two worst teams over the next seven games.

Texas has the fewest wins in baseball and Houston, which travels to Seattle for a three-game series beginning Monday, had the second fewest wins in the AL entering Thursday. Yet the Mariners have won just one of five series against the Rangers this year and are 6-9 against Texas.

"Every game is a chance to gain ground," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We haven't played well against Texas to this point, so we've got to step it up a little bit and execute a little better and give ourselves a chance to win games. … We just haven't played well. The first time we came in here, we had a chance to win three out of four and we wound up losing three of four because we didn't execute on defense."

Seattle could help itself immensely in the seven games prior to the final 17 games, of which 14 are against teams currently in playoff contention. That includes three games at home against Oakland, an 11-game road trip through Anaheim, Houston and Toronto, and a three-game set at home against the Angels to end the season.

Dave Sessions is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.