For teams in the hunt for a division title or wild card spot the magic number indicates how many wins coupled with the losses of the trailing team is needed for the leading team to clinch.
The magic number for the Mariners however, is different. For them the magic number is how many wins they need to be a .500 team. That number is 14.
Lets do the math. Please open your textbook to page 162. The Mariners are 67-71. That adds up to 138 games. They play 162 games, so the difference is 24. If in the 24 games they go 14-10, they will finish at 81-81. All in all, a successful season for a team with little to no offense. Thank you Felix Hernandez, Justin Vargas, the bullpen, and the defense.
Looking closer at the 24 games, 12 are at home and 12 are on the road. The Mariners play six games each with Texas, Los Angeles, and Oakland, their division rivals. Three at home and three away for each of those three teams. They play three at Toronto and three home with Baltimore.
The Mariners are 7-6 vs. Oakland; 5-8 vs. Los Angeles; 6-7 vs. Texas 4-2 vs. Toronto; and (ugh) 1-5 vs. Baltimore. Add it up and the M’s are 23-28 against their remaining opponents. It looks to be an uphill battle to go 14-10 against those teams. So magic is indeed needed.
What the Mariners need is a Merlin, a wizard with a magic bat belting homeruns, casting evil spells against the dreaded Rangers, Angels, and A’s. We can handle the Blue Jays. They are cute little birds. But those Orioles are nasty little things. We need all the magic we can muster against those feathered beasts.
The season is over, the Mariners will sink to the bottom of the American League Ocean once again. But the Good Ship Mariner still has something to play for, something to achieve. There is a reason to pay attention to the last 24 games. The reason is to watch for the magic number of 14. Let the watch begin.