The Mariners will be playing their 127th game of the season on Friday night in Boston. They are 68-58 and have 35 games remaining after today. And to manager Lloyd McClendon, that means the stretch run for the postseason begins with this three-game series with the Red Sox.
“This is it,” McClendon said. “It really is. We have to up our game in a lot of different ways, both mentally and physically because they all get tough from here on out.”
Sure the games leading up to it meant just as much, but going forward players won’t be getting off-days for rest unless absolutely necessary. He will still use match-ups and splits to determine the lineups, but it’s time to make a push.
“Other than our scheduled days off, no,” he said.
And the Mariners will have to make that run on the road. Of the 35 remaining games, only 15 are at home. Seattle plays just nine games at home in the month of September. But they are 34-26 on the road this season.
“If we are going to be successful, we are going to have to do it on the road,” McClendon said. “I think we’ve got nine home games in September. I don’t know who in the hell made that schedule up. That’s pretty tough. It is what it is and we’ll deal with it. We’ve done it all year. We don’t talk about it. We don’t make excuses. We just go out and do it. It will be no different in September.”
Robinson Cano, who has played in a few stretch runs with the Yankees, is ready for it.
“This is a time where a manager isn’t going to sub,” Cano said. “You don’t want to take a game off because every means a lot. It’s must win right now. You gotta be ready every single day. That’s why in the offseason I work really hard because this is the time where the team really needs you – these kinds of situations. Whatever you did in the past doesn’t count right now. Hopefully we continue to play the same way we have been playing.”
But are Cano’s teammates, who are far less experienced in these situations, ready for it?
“Yeah of course,” he said. “Whatever is in my hands that I can do to tell them, talk to them or show them, then I will do it. We are there. A lot of peopled doubted that we’d be so far along this late in the season, but we got a bunch of guys here that work really hard every single day. They go out there and try to win the game and play hard and we have a good chemistry.”
Cano said the Mariners would be contenders during the eight-game losing streak. The comment elicited plenty of eye rolls, but he believed it.
“If you look around at all these guys on this team, all of these guys can hit,” Cano said. “It was just a matter of time to get experience – how are they going to pitch me? What am I going to do in this situation? Everyone goes through that, even myself. “