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

August 18, 2009 at 9:02 AM

Seattle Mariners not guaranteed a winning season just yet

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That was quite the 24-hour drama-fest last night, finally completed just minutes before the 9 p.m. Pacific deadline as the Mariners inked Dustin Ackley, their No. 2 overall pick in the draft. We’ll be talking to Ackley later on today.
So, the Mariners now know that their 101-loss season in 2008 at least produced something of note. The M’s of 2009 have already matched last year’s 61-win total.
But can these Mariners, after an enjoyable season to date, finish above .500? The question is not as crazy as it sounds. Since the trade deadline, the M’s have gone 8-7. But remember, six of those wins came during a period in which the Mariners were scoring an average of 6.33 runs per game — highest in the league. They got away with some mistakes against the awful Royals and also the White Sox — especially in that 1-0 win in 14 innings.
Starting with the second game of that series with the White Sox, the Mariners have scored just 17 runs in their last six games. Making it even worse is that 10 of those runs came in a single contest, the team’s 10-3 win over New York on Sunday.
So, it would appear the offense is back to its usual tricks. A prolonged famine followed by a short feast.
Not a good sign as the team heads towards its final 6 1/2 weeks of schedule.

With a record of 61-57, the Mariners have played exactly at .500 in the post-All-Star part of the schedule. But part of that was when they still had Jarrod Washburn to go alongside Felix Hernandez. Since Washburn left, we’ve seen good pitching out of Ryan Rowland-Smith and a couple of nice starts by Doug Fister.
And that’s the only reason the Mariners are still playing above .500 for now because the offense, as we mentioned, is back to being terrible.
And there is nothing that’s going to ride in to rescue those bats anytime soon. Adrian Beltre is shelved once again, while Russell Branyan continues to come back down to more earthly levels as the long season wears on.
The Mariners are currently at minus-50 in run differential — and that’s after the big 10-3 win on Sunday. Seattle’s so-called Pythagorean record, adjusted for the run differential, says this “should” be a 54-64 ballclub.
Now, imagine the mood around this franchise right now if that was the case, The Mariners are where they are because of a 28-14 record in one-run games. Once again, because of some stellar pitching by certain members of the rotation and year-long from its crew of bullpen arms.
And for this team to finish above .500, that will have to continue.
If anything good came out of that weekend series with the Yankees, it was likely that it served as a “wake up call” for the Mariners. At least, it should have.
I thought the Mariners were taken to school by a Yankees club that appears to be of championship caliber. The remaining gaps between these squads was obvious. The Yankees blew the Mariners out in one game, then showed they could play the one-run type of affairs as well. New York did not dominate the entire series, but did the little things needed to secure three of the four contests. The Mariners discovered that, in order to play at a championship level, you cannot afford little mistakes.
And that’s a lesson everyone on the team — from a star like Ichiro to a 25th man like Josh Wilson — should have taken home.
These Mariners won’t have to play championship-level ball to finish above .500.
But they will have to up their game from what they’ve been doing. Because with the loss of guys like Beltre and Erik Bedard, not to mention the departure of Washburn, this is no easy road that lies ahead. Guys like Fister ,may or may not continue to have success every five days once teams get some extensive video footage of him pitching to major league hitters. But that’s hardly something you can take to the bank.
This promises to be an interesting road trip for the Mariners when it comes to their overall record.
Detroit can be a graveyard for some pitchers, while the Indians laid a psychological beating on the Mariners just a few weeks back — effectively ending their playoff chances. True, the Indians are a bit depleted since making their own deadline deals, but this week’s games can take this Mariners team in a couple of directions.
We could see the Mariners, who send Felix Hernandez out there tonight in his continued quest for a Cy Young Award, pad their four-games-over-.500 record to build a bit of cushion. Or, if some of what we saw against the Yankees is allowed to continue. this club could limp home hovering right around .500.
For some reason, I don’t see any in-between stuff happening. Maybe it’s just me.
Should be an interesting week ahead.



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