The 2003 race to the playoffs - 9/11

<b>AL West Standings</b>:<br> Oakland 87-60<br> Seattle 84-62 (2.5 games back) </p><p> <b>AL Wildcard Standings</b>:<br> Boston 85-60<br> Seattle 84-62 (1.5 games back)

With Boston off Thursday, the Mariners had a chance to make up ground in at least the Wild Card race, and that they did. Unfortunately, Oakland rolled off another win to maintain its 2.5 game lead in the American League West, but the Mariners cut the Red Sox's lead down to 1.5 in the Wild Card with a win over Texas.

Here's a breakdown of the wins by Seattle and Oakland:

Seattle 8 - Texas 2

The Mariners got eight strong innings by 24-year-old starter Gil Meche, and finally gave the young righty run support as Meche improved to 15-10 on the season.

Meche avoided big trouble in the first, getting out of a bases loaded, one out situation after one run had already scored. From then on, it was smooth sailing.

Alex Rodriguez's sacrifice fly in the fifth was the only other bump in the road for Meche, who struck out four Rangers batters on the night.

Seattle did it's damage via small-ball, playing like they did back in April and May. Without hitting a homerun in the game, the Mariners utilized timely hitting to push eight runs across.

Randy Winn got the M's on the board with a RBI ground-rule double in the second inning, one of three hits on the day for the Seattle left fielder.

Seattle finished with two runs the second, one in the fourth and three in the fifth off of Rangers' starter Mickey Callaway. Callaway walked four and gave up six hits in just four innings, as the M's got to him early and often.

He dropped to a miserable 1-7 on the season.

Every Mariner except Bret Boone and Edgar Martinez recorded a hit, as the M's rattled off 10 as a team.

The Rangers had only five.


Oakland 14 - Anaheim 4

Athletics' all-world rookie Rich Harden has stolen the headlines of late, and Thursday he took center stage, overpowering the Angels for his fifth win of his major league career.

Harden (5-4) struck out three and allowed three runs in 5.1 innings of work and the A's bats did the rest.

Third baseman Eric Chavez led the offensive explosion, blasting two homers on the day. That was just the tip of the iceburg for Oakland, a team that came into the game with the second-worst batting average in the AL (thanks to Detroit).

Mark Ellis, Eric Byrnes and Billy McMillion each added homers of their own.

Angels' starter Scott Shields (4-5) served up four of the homers en route to his the losing decision.

Oakland managed to push runs across home plate in every inning except the fifth, leading to the lopsided outcome.

They out-hit the Angels 11 to 9.


What's Ahead:

Boston welcomes the Chicago White Sox to Fenway for a three-game series starting Friday.

Oakland heads down to Texas for a three-game set, looking for the sweep against the lowly Rangers.

Seattle faces Anaheim at Safeco Field for three games, needing to win every game with little more than two weeks left in the regular season.


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