Now, whether they’ll be able to take advantage of this run, that’s another matter.
I’ve been taking a look at the schedule, which is ALWAYS a dangerous proposition, but I can’t help liking what I’m seeing before me. In this run-up to the All Star Break, the Mariners have quite the reasonable slate of games. I should point out that being at home isn’t necessarily a positive for this team – where they are currently one game under .500 in the early going – but then again, the weather is starting to warm up, and with it, maybe the bats? Either way, the Mariners play 21 of their next 36 at Safeco (including the final seven before the Break, which is a nice way to rest up before the second half).
And, have you seen these pigeons we’ve got coming up? At best, they’re nothing special. At worst, they’re awful. The Rays have underperformed. The Yankees are old and hapless. The Rangers are suffering an insane amount of injuries. The Padres are so-so. KC, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, even the White Sox are all nothing to fear. Then, we close out with four against the last place Twins before a three game series against the A’s – the only really good team in the bunch.
If the Mariners are going to make any noise this year, the next five-or-so weeks will go a long way in figuring out if we’re contenders or pretenders. The A.L. West has established itself as a tough division to play in. All teams save the Astros have winning records or NEARLY winning records, and even the Astros seem to always give the Mariners fits. The Mariners are currently 20-18 against the A.L. West right now (6-3 against the Angels, 5-5 against both the A’s & Astros, and 4-5 against the Rangers). That puts the M’s at 11-10 against everyone else in baseball. Suffice it to say, that’s not going to cut it.
When you consider how well most of the A.L. West is playing, you have to figure there’s going to be a lot of churn with these intra-division games. A lot of evenly-matched teams beating up on one another. That means, the team that comes out on top will have to set the standard on all of these games outside of the West. These next five-or-so weeks give Seattle an opportunity to pound on some lesser competition (if, indeed, they are lesser competition, which I guess will be determined when the games are played). 27 of the next 36 games are outside of the division. If we can win some crazy amount of games in this run, we could be in a prime position to remain in contention through the rest of the season.
In looking further ahead, the rest of July and August also feature games primarily outside of the division, before September rears its ugly head and sees the M’s playing 23 of their final 27 games inside the West again. If we can pad our record now, on the dregs of the Major Leagues, we can look to secure our spot in the Wild Card, with an outside shot – if things go well in September – of taking total control of the division.
Look, I know this is asking a lot. Coming into this month, I figured the Mariners would have to win 2-3 games more than they lose each month to close things out to have a chance at the postseason. But, what if they can get those games all at once in the next five-or-so weeks? What if we can REALLY get our record good and far over .500 right now, and then kind of coast – going .500-or-so in the second half? It would keep the fans interested, which would help ticket sales and our home-field advantage. And, it might actually make the Mariners “buyers” at the Trade Deadline. The sooner we prove we’re contenders, the sooner we can do what it takes to make the appropriate improvements to personnel.
What can I say? I’m just trying to believe in something. The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl has me all topsy-turvy. At this point, I’ll buy anything.
Including: what would a five-game or seven-game series look like with Felix, Iwakuma, one of either Paxton or Walker (assuming both won’t be healthy at the same time), and Elias? I’m so hard right now, I need to see my doctor about an erection lasting longer than four hours …