Week Ahead: Wild matchups on tap

Mariners-Jays, Giants-Dodgers, O's-Red Sox have playoff implications

Week Ahead: Wild matchups on tap

There's a reason they're called Wild Cards, and in the week ahead in Major League Baseball, they're set to get wilder than ever.

There isn't much rest for the hopeful. Right away, there are possible October implications for every inning of baseball in game after game throughout Monday and the early-week slate.

Take a look in the upper left-hand corner of the country, for example. The Seattle Mariners have not given up and find themselves tied with the Tigers in the Wild Card standings, two games out of the second slot currently held by the Toronto Blue Jays. And those very Blue Jays are the ones visiting Safeco Field for a crucial three-game series that could alter the current landscape of the postseason standing in a big way.

The Mariners bounced back from two consecutive home losses to the Astros with a big win Sunday afternoon. Now they have to keep the momentum rolling against Toronto.

"Every win at this point is huge," said Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, whose two-run double got the Mariners going in their 7-3 victory over Houston on Sunday. "Everything gets magnified here at the end, for sure. It's good to at least salvage this one, and we've got a big series coming up."

As the Mariners try to make up ground against Toronto, the Astros will face the A's on the road and the Tigers will travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins. The Yankees, still in the mix as well, will take on the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, the team in the top spot in the AL Wild Card standings, the Baltimore Orioles, will find themselves with a chance to make up serious ground in the American League East by facing the division-leading Red Sox in Boston. They trail by 2 1/2 games heading into the three-game set. And their manager, Buck Showalter, doesn't need to tell them how big these games are.

"I don't get into that mentality that this has to happen, that has to happen," Showalter said. "Our guys will show up and compete their [tails] off. We'll do what needs to be done, and if it leads to a win, so be it. Our guys understand. They don't need me stating the obvious."

In the National League, an equally important week looms.

Aside from the classic rivalry series between the Giants and Dodgers that begins Monday in Los Angeles with Madison Bumgarner vs. Clayton Kershaw is the fact that the Giants are holding onto a one-game advantage for the second Wild Card spot, with the St. Louis Cardinals and their postseason pedigree right there behind them, particularly after the Cardinals shaved another game off the difference with a big win over San Francisco on Sunday.

While the Giants and Dodgers tangle in Chavez Ravine, the Cardinals will head to the mountains for three games against the Rockies before moving on to Wrigley Field for a weekend set against their NL Central nemesis, the division-clinching Cubs.

"This is playoff baseball already for us," Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong said Saturday. "We're playing every single game like it's our last, and we want to come in and win as much as we can. We know the Mets aren't going to give it to us, and neither are [the Giants]."

Speaking of the Mets, a.k.a. the current top-spot holders in the NL Wild Card race and defending NL champions, they'll spend the week ahead trying to deal with the cruel reality that they'll be without ace Jacob deGrom, who needs surgery on his ulnar nerve, while trying to keep doing a great job in having someone else step up for an injured player.

The next seven days will see them camped out at their home park of Citi Field with a favorable schedule: three games against the sub-.500 Braves followed by four against the sub-.500 Phillies.

And just like every other team still fighting for a berth in October, they know what is required during the week ahead and beyond.

"We've just got to continue to keep winning ballgames regardless of who the opponent is or how we end up winning it," Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said.

"We win games, we get a chance to get into the postseason. That's just the simple of it, and it's going to be tough all the way down to the end."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.