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Comparing remaining schedules of Oakland A’s and Mariners

Oakland has an easier path ahead of them the rest of the season.

Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners are neck-and-neck in what appears to be a two-team race for the second AL Wild Card. The next team (Angels) is seven games back of Oakland, and the rest of the league after that is .500 or worse. In the other direction, the defending champion Astros haven’t locked up the AL West crown but are the universal favorites to hang on, and the Yankees have a healthy lead on the first Wild Card until further notice.

We might reach a point where the Astros and/or Yankees become relevant prey in Oakland’s postseason hunt, but for now let’s focus on the task at hand. The A’s need to catch the Mariners, and they’re only two games back as we reach the end of July (three back in the loss column). Oakland has played 107 games, meaning they have 55 left, while Seattle still has 57 remaining. The first bit of good news is that the A’s have a couple extra off-days ahead of them!

However, the best news for the team doing the chasing is that 10 of those remaining games are head-to-head matchups between the two. There’s no easier way to catch another club than to beat them yourself. On top of that, Oakland has a significantly easier schedule to look forward to. Here’s the rundown.

An asterisk* denotes that the team has an off-day after that series.

A's M's
3 vs. TOR* 3 vs. HOU
3 vs. DET* 4 vs. TOR
2 vs. LAD* 3 @ TEX
3 @ LAA 4 @ HOU
3 vs. SEA* 3 @ OAK*
3 vs. HOU 3 vs. LAD
3 vs. TEX 3 vs. HOU*
4 @ MIN 3 @ ARZ*
3 @ HOU 2 @ SDP
4 vs. SEA 4 @ OAK
3 vs. NYY* 3 vs. BAL*
3 vs. TEX* 3 vs. NYY*
3 @ BAL 2 vs. SDP
3 @ TBR* 4 @ LAA
3 vs. LAA 3 @ HOU*
3 vs. MIN 3 @ TEX
3 @ SEA* 3 vs. OAK
3 @ LAA 4 vs. TEX

Some observations:

  • Of the 10 head-to-heads, seven of them will be played in Oakland. Furthermore, both series in the Coliseum will come at the ends of 10-game road trips for the Mariners, including once after the taxing Texas double-dip. On the other hand, the A’s need to go 7-3 in those games in order to win the season series (which would decide home-field in a tiebreaker game if necessary).
  • The A’s advantage in off-days comes right away. They’ll get a rest after each of the next three series, whereas the Mariners will play the next 17 days straight (for a total of 20, including last weekend).
  • The A’s still have an East Coast trip left, but at least it’s a relatively short and easy one.
  • After the Yankees on Sept. 5, the A’s don’t really face another good team all year except once against the Mariners.

Here’s a condensed look at which opponents each team still has to face (excluding each other).

Opp A's M's
HOU 6 13
LAA 9 4
TEX 6 10
MIN 7 0
DET 3 0
NYY 3 3
TOR 3 4
BAL 3 3
TBR 3 0
LAD 2 3
ARZ 0 3
SDP 0 4

The biggest difference there is the Astros. The A’s have mostly completed their slate against the champs, whereas the Mariners still have a ton of games against them. And if something unexpected happens and Seattle blasts Houston, then all that would happen is that Oakland would be chasing a different club for the Wild Card (the Astros’ lead is only four games right now). As for the rest of the division, both teams have plenty of dates against the bottom-dwellers, just in different proportions.

The toughest test outside of the division will be three games against the Yankees, but both clubs have to do that and they both get to do so at home. They also both face the Dodgers once more, and on the other end of the spectrum they each get a series against the embarrassingly bad Orioles and white-flag Blue Jays. All of that is a wash.

The other big difference is that Seattle still has a heavy interleague schedule, including the contending D’Backs. Meanwhile, the A’s have a bunch left against the pathetic AL Central, mainly with a Twins team that has already given up and started selling (and also a Tigers team doing the same).

Overall, here’s the way to look at it: The Mariners have a bunch of extra games against the Astros, D’Backs, and Padres, while the A’s will spend that time playing the Twins, Tigers, and Rays. The A’s also get two extra off-days, and they get to host 70% of the remaining head-to-heads. Advantage: Oakland.

Of course, none of this might end up being important. If one team catches fire like the A’s just did in July, or one team falls apart like the Mariners also just did in July, then it might not matter who they’re playing. But from where we’re sitting at this moment, Oakland has an easier path to glory even after spotting Seattle a two-game handicap.