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

September 15, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Mariners trying to hang in against daunting schedule

Here are the remaining opponents left for the Mariners to face and their record over the past 20 games:
Texas — 13-7 (.650)
Oakland — 16-4 (.800)
Angels — 14-6 (.700)
Baltimore — 14-6 (.700)
This is what is commonly refered to as a “finishing kick” in sports parlance, where teams in contention kick it into overdrive and act like there’s no tomorrow. What we have this year is a very interesting playoff situation in the AL where — unlike the NL — no division leader is safe, as the Yankees found out.
The White Sox are struggling to hang on in the AL Central and even the Rangers are only three games up in the AL West. In other words, unlike recent seasons where some playoff teams could afford to rest their best players in the final two weeks, that’s unlikely to happen this time.
And that means, no breaks for the Mariners until maybe the final weekend of the season if they’re fortunate.
The Mariners are 8-12 (.400) over their last 20 games and have no post-season to shoot for. They are currently on-pace for 77 wins and that will in all likelihood get knocked down to about 75 or so by season’s end.
And so, we can pretty much call it that right now.
Photo Credit: AP

We’ve gotten to the point where the Mariners are what they are and reading any more into it beyond this is rather pointless. If the team goes on to win only 72 games, it won’t really make much of a difference compared to a 75-win season.
Likewise, if they manage to win 78 games by season’s end, it could mean they really hung in there against quality opponents. Or, it could mean the Angels were eliminated by the final weekend and played a bunch of reservists that the M’s managed to smoke.
Does it really matter? No, not much.
A playoff-bound Mariners team probably would not have had a bunch of rookies and call-ups out there pitching in the eighth inning of a one-run game in Texas last night — nor would Carlos Peguero have been in right field — so this is still more about training and teaching than it is about truly trying to win every game. And that’s OK. We’ve said all along that win-loss records only tell you so much.
At this point, the Mariners pretty much look like a 75-win team and that’s what many of you had hoped for at the start of the season. It isn’t a playoff team by any stretch, but it’s also a better team than what we saw two years ago or in the second half of last season.
Now, the focus has to be on how to make next year’s team better. We’ll see some more performances tonight and tomorrow in Texas and get a look at whether some guys can hold their own against the game’s best.
Tonight, for instance, should be a big test for Jason Vargas. He has the capability of getting some of these Rangers left-handed bats out. I’ve seen him shut the Rangers down in Arlington before. Can he do it again? Or will he succumb to the home run ball, as he’s so prone to doing in visiting ballparks? The Rangers are playing for something tonight and tomorrow, so you can bet they’ll be bringing their A-game.
As for wins and losses, though, we’ve pretty much seen what this team is. It’s a 75-win team, give or take, and nothing over these next two weeks is really going to change that, whether the Mariners get beaten down, or hang tough. So, focus on the individuals, and don’t get all that hung up on the final scores, which are likely to not favor Seattle much of the time from here on in.



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