We’ve spent the past 48 hours or so looking at the Mariners and what has gone wrong so far in a season that sees them nine games under .500. I spent last night on the radio (box below) looking at who is to blame and what can be done, if anything, to change the course of a season gone bad.
And the one thing that kept coming back is that the Mariners need to do something unexpected on this seven-game road trip if they’re going to alter their destiny this 2013 season.
They have seven games upcoming, beginning tonight in Oakland and concluding in Anaheim next week. They have their two best starting pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, going in
four three of those seven games. That means, a 4-3 record is imminently doable if the offense shows up. It also means a 5-2 record is not out of the question if the rotation outside of those two arms continues to deliver acceptable results.
And really, when you’re nine under and trying to make up ground, going 5-2 on the trip and being six under is a lot better than 4-3 and eight under.
Finish this trip with a losing record, we can just about call it a wrap on 2013 and start the 2014 auditions.
This really is up to the Mariners. They had all day yesterday to put Michael Morse or Kendrys Morales on the 15-day disabled list and chose not to yet again. Had all day to call up Dustin Ackley and play him at first base and give one of those guys a rest. They chose instead to play Ackley in left field and center in Class AAA, looking ahead, no doubt to how they will give their major league outfielders a break in coming weeks.
That’s all fine and dandy.
But what it means is, right now, the Mariners are confident enough in Morse and Morales going forward and trust in their ability to get the job done. Because even if Ackley is ready to play the outfield next homestand, it’s not going to matter much if the Mariners limp home 10 or 12 games below .500 with any hope of a winning season flushed away.
The Mariners rolled the dice with their offense Wednesday night — opting to sit Morse and Morales and roll a popgun squad out there against a Class AAA looking Houston Astros team — and the gamble nearly paid off. But the one run that offense finally squeezed across was undone in a six-run ninth-inning implosion by Tom Wilhelmsen and company.
Instead of the needed sweep that any type of mediocre offense would have given them, the Mariners again settled for being nine games under .500 instead of seven.
They gambled that night away hoping for the longer-term payoff of getting Morse and Morales healthy.
Now, we’ll see whether it was worth it. Or, whether the latest educated guess by general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge comes up empty once again.
But have no doubt, the Mariners do have their pitching set up to emerge from this road trip with the needed surprising results to keep this season alive a bit longer and perhaps avoid a mid-summer selloff of anyone over the age of 30 (they could have maximized the pitching even further and had Hernandez and Iwakuma go up to four times on normal rest, but instead have elected to give everyone an extra day and pitch Iwakuma only once on the road). And they have their two biggest bats rested and supposedly healthy enough — again, no DL time ordered-up yet, nor AAA reinforcements summoned — to supply the needed offense to make that pitching work.
The rest is up to the Mariners.
They aren’t dead yet. Now, they just have to prove it.
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