The great national nightmare is over! The next game we play is tomorrow. We have a .500 record at 11-11, we’ll be back at Safeco Field for another 9-Game Homestand, we are at the moment 1 full game behind Oakland (12-10), 1-half game behind Anaheim Los Angeles (12-11), and 1-half game ahead of Texas (10-11). Oh, and that very Texas Rangers team is who we play first, followed by Tampa Bay, followed by Anaheim Los Angeles; so it couldn’t get much tougher for a homestand. Most importantly: Cliff Lee makes his first start as a Seattle Mariner tomorrow. What does this all boil down to? Well, we managed to Hang Around in the AL West until Cliff Lee got back. That’s all anyone could’ve ever hoped for. After that abomination to start the year – in Oakland and Arlington – I don’t think anyone would’ve had us within a game of first place. There’s reason for optimism all around, even on the hitting front. Ichiro and Gutierrez are tearing the cover off the ball; Kotchman and Bradley have proven to be key contributers; Figgins and Lopez are quietly productive; and Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson aren’t totally helpless anymore! I like our chances. I like them a lot better if we stay healthy because I hate our depth … but I like our chances.