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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 18, 2007 at 9:24 AM

Interleague boredom

Can’t wait to get started on that “natural rivalry” between the Mariners and San Diego Padres tonight. You know what? It feels like they’ve suspended the regular season and we’re about to embark on an exhibition series, sort of like the World Baseball Classic without all the flag-waving and interpreters (well, the M’s will have those around). Or, like an all-star game minus most of the all-stars. Probably won’t get a home run derby either. The Padres are another of those no-hit National League squads that would feel right at home playing in the AL West. Can you feel the fever yet?
I mean, seriously, what is the point? How can these games be allowed to count in the standings when some teams get to feast on cellar dwellars, while others get stuck playing juggernauts? Not sure where the Padres fit in that pecking order. They do have pitching, but can’t hit their way out of any bag — paper, plastic, garbage or otherwise.
The M’s will need some of their interleague magic (luck?) from last season. Remember, the Mariners went 14-4 against the NL last year and have a .557 winning percentage in interleague play since it began. That’s the fifth-best record in all of baseball. Maybe I should be more excited about this. But I just can’t get charged up by the notion of Seattle padding its record against clubs that, let’s face it, don’t stack up offensively to the AL. Not sure what we’ll be able to tell about the Mariners after this weekend.
Here’s an interesting story on a veteran Padres relief pitcher. Had a nice conversation with Brocail way back in the late-1990s when he still pitched for the Tigers and they had rolled in to the only decent hotel bar in Arlington, Texas just as the club I covered was packing up to leave town. Shook me up last season when I heard about his troubles so I’m glad he’s OK.
The one thing I can tell about this Mariners team after watching them play the Angels? Not quite ready for prime time. They were gift-wrapped a series opening win and then fell flat on their faces. Seattle is now 1-5 against the team to beat in the AL West. A very mediocre AL West. So, what does that say about the .500 M’s? For now, it says they aren’t ready for that next level. Harsh, I know. But what haved they shown so far? They’ve shown they can compete on most nights and not embarass themselves against some of the AL’s more feared teams. But from what I saw the past two nights, those final two games with the Angels were over early. Yes, the M’s made some noise on the basepaths later on. But noise is one thing, doing something with that noise quite another. What happened to those four and five-run late-inning outbursts we saw in Anaheim a month ago when the M’s were down by a half-dozen or more? Exactly. When they had a realistic shot of catching up on Wednesday and Thursday, we didn’t see those runs scoring. The Angels shut the M’s down.
So, that’s the way I see it until the Mariners show me something more. Not quite ready. Still waiting for that first sweep of the season (of three games or more) and first five-game winning streak. Get those out of the way and we’ll talk about contending. Even in the AL West, you have to accomplish both those things at some point.
The A’s haven’t had a sweep of three or more, or a five-game streak either. The Angels? They’ve had a pair of three-game sweeps. No five-game win streak, but it’s likely to come soon if the sweeps pile up.
Here is a look at AL teams with winning records and the number of sweeps of a series of three or more games that they’ve managed:
Red Sox — 3
Indians — 3
Angels — 2
Tigers — 2
White Sox — 0
The Tigers have had an eight-game win streak, the Indians a six-gamer and the Red Sox a five-game streak. Only the Angels and White Sox haven’t won at least five in a row yet. When you don’t sweep a series of three or more, as the White Sox — and Mariners — have yet to do, winning five in a row becomes very difficult to pull off. So does separating yourself from .500. The only reason the Mariners are staying close is the inability of the Angels to put a sustained streak together and leave them in their dust. Best for the M’s to start taking care of business.

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