Just one game under .500, and only 5.5 games back in the American League West, the Mariners are poised to enter perhaps the most critical stretch of games in their season thus far. With the trade deadline looming and the team hanging in buy-or-sell purgatory, the M’s should emerge from their next 15 games with a much better idea of where they stand in 2009.
The Mariners kick off a nine-game road trip today that sends them to Baltimore, then Colorado, and finally San Diego before returning home for six games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and those very same San Diego Padres.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s fifteen games against teams with sub-.500 records. Maybe the most winnable stretch of ballgames the M’s will encounter all year.
Which means the Mariners could very well enter July finding themselves in the thick of a playoff race that should carry them through the trading deadline. Meaning all those names that have cropped up in recent months (Erik Bedard, Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn, etc) as possible trade commodities, might end up spending the rest of ’09 in a Seattle uniform after all.
Of course, if the M’s intend to reach “buyer” status by the All-Star break, they’re going to have to start this next stretch of games off by winning in Baltimore. Fans may remember an early-season road trip in 2008 that got its start in Baltimore and essentially ended the Mariners’ year before the end of May. That can’t happen again.
From one coast to the other, the Mariners will endure a week-and-a-half of brutal travel before they see the lights of the Emerald City once again. If they can take care of business on the road, though, we may be talking about our team as playoff contenders the next time they don the home whites.
You’ve got to love the sound of that.