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

June 11, 2007 at 4:08 AM

Big week ahead

So, once this unpleasantness in Cleveland gets done tonight, the soaring Mariners get to play a half-dozen games against the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. Let’s take a gander at how those two clubs are doing and…yeesh! Not exactly tearing up the NL Central are they? Both a combined 17 games under .500, with the Astros 10 under. You know what that means, right? Yes, folks. The Mariners have done a fantastic job of taking care of business against the cellar dwellers to remain in the AL West race. So, is another 5-1 run against two bottom feeders (if they played in a good division they would be bottom feeders) possible? Do that and at worst, this seven-game stint finishes 5-2. Or, it goes 6-1 if the M’s can upset the Indians in Cleveland tonight.
What does that get the team? Well, let’s see. Win tonight and the Mariners move to four back of the Angels since no one else plays. Lose this game and Seattle is again five back in the AL West. That was a whole lot of winning the team just did the past week in order to pick up a half-game in the standings wasn’t it? So, winning in Cleveland tonight would be a huge lift. The mound opponent is none other than Paul Byrd. You remember him, right? No hitter going against the M’s, one strike left on Jose Lopez before the game became official in the fifth inning. Mike Hargrove getting the game delayed, then called because of snow? Yes, Byrd is out for some revenge. No, this won’t be easy.
In fact, the Mariners don’t see another pitcher with an earned run average over 4.00 until Wandy Rodriguez takes the mound in Houston next Friday. So, that’s a bit of a challenge right there. Yes, yes. Two of the Cubs starters, Rich Hill and Sean Marshall, are lefties. The Mariners are hitting .294 off lefties compared to .283 off righties and .286 overall. An edge in Seattle’s corner right there.
Here’s another edge. The Angels continue to play on the road, where they are only 16-15 over-all, compared to 24-9. True, they do get to play the terrible Reds this week, but then have to face the contending Los Angeles Dodgers. So, for the M’s to gain ground, it appears they’ll have to go at least 5-2 over that seven-game stretch. I’m assuming the Angels take two of three, minimum, versus the Reds, then lose at least one to the Dodgers.
No, it isn’t science. Just a little realism.
Oh, then there are the Oakland A’s, who have given up only 15 runs in their last 10 games. Yes, folks. That’s 1.5 runs per contest. In their last 13 games, they’ve allowed just 23 runs. Also less than two per. We mentioned yesterday that they’d allowed two runs or less their past 11 contests. That’s actually the starting pitchers who have allowed those totals. My mistake. That streak’s now up to 12 games with yesterday’s shutout. No runs allowed by the A’s since Friday. You get the picture. Oakland is officially on another of its patented June rolls.
And now they get to go to Houston for three games. Whew boy. The Cards might win a game off them after that and then the gosh-awful Reds play Oakland. In other words, anything worse than 5-2 over the next seven and the Mariners could find themselves firmly ensconced in third place. Nobody said contender life was fair. By the way, to answer the reader in the previous post who did all that wonderful work to show the balance in usage of relief pitchers by the Mariners over the past two weeks or so.
You’re right, no one is burned out yet. The usage by Mike Hargrove has been very balanced. That was kind of my point. And no, you can’t start giving John McLaren all the credit for it. Unless you want to criticize McLaren for sticking with Richie Sexson in the middle of the order for so long, not getting Jeff Weaver out of the rotation fast enough, some bunt calls, hit-and-runs and all the other stuff I’ve seen folks complain about in regards to Hargrove.
It doesn’t work that way in the real world. You can’t give McLaren all the credit when things go right and Hargrove all the blame when they go wrong. That’s just too easy. Right now, this team is seven games over .500. I’d say the entire coaching staff has done the job right to some degree, wouldn’t you? Not like they were handed a pitching staff of Cy Young Award contenders. But they are hanging with two AL West clubs who do boast a few of those.



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