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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Mariners’ rugged stretch: Do or die…or maybe not

It’s easy to see the potential downside of the Mariners’ upcoming 16-game stretch that brings them to the All-Star break. It could ruin their season, drop them far out of contention, and end the mystery once and for all about whether they’re buyers or sellers. On the Road Trip Disasto-Meter (patent pending), it would be impossible to surpass last year’s 0-11 monstrosity in September, when the Mariners got swept in four-game series in Anaheim and Kansas City, then finished the trip by losing all three in Oakland. Ah, the memories.

But, of course, the 2008 season was long lost by then, and Stephen Strasburg was in sight, so that was one losing streak that was actually cheered by some Mariners’ fans. I’m thinking more along the lines of Aug. 30-Sept. 9, 2007, when the M’s closed the door on their already dimming playoff hopes by going 2-8 in Cleveland (a one-game makeup from that dreaded snow-out series in April), Toronto, New York and Detroit.

It’s also easy to see the potential upside for the Mariners. If they can handle the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox on the road trip that begins tonight at Dodger Stadium — can’t wait to see the shrine of my childhood, the place that former Seattle Times sports writer Les Carpenter (who also spent part of his youth in So-Cal) and I always refer to by one word: Heaven) — as well as the four at home against Texas that close the first half, they will have established themselves as legitimate contenders.

But here’s another outcome we have to consider. I call it “The Non-Commital Fortnight.” Let’s say the Mariners go 3-6 against the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. Let’s say they come home and take two out of three from the Orioles. (No one seems to want to mention that the Orioles are squeezed into this stretch, right between Boston and Texas). And let’s say they split those four with Texas at Safeco. I don’t think any of those results, or something similar, are out of the realm of possibility

And what would we have? The Mariners sitting at .500 (44-44), that’s what. And, possibly. still in the same nebulous three-to-five-games-behind range. We still wouldn’t know if they were buyers or sellers, and we’d be two weeks closer to the trade deadline.

All I’m saying is be prepared: This stretch that is supposed to reveal everything might actually reveal nothing.

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