I really don’t know how they’re doing it. At the beginning of the season, I picked the Seattle Mariners to finish last in the AL West again. The big issue was starting pitching. The big issue still is starting pitching, but here the M’s are — a game behind the Angels for the lead in the division and three games ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race.
As a journalist who’s suposed to be impartial to these things, I’m finding it difficult not to pull for these guys. I mean, ask an East Coastie to name three Mariners and I bet he stops at Ichiro Suzuki. Underdogs may be the best part of sports.
But remember: The M’s are in the middle of the most brutal stretch of the season. One is a 20-game stretch in which they play three at home. And the three? Next week against the Angels, the most important series of the season. Also, they’re on a 45-day string in which they have 44 games.
Manager John McLaren has been receiving a lot of heat from know-it-alls about his lineups, but all he’s been doing is winning. Mindful of the season’s marathon, he’s used his bench pretty well to give the regulars some rest. They’re going to need it in September.
Still, I wonder how they’re going to pull this off, given the lack of consistency in the starting pitching. Horacio Ramirez, who probably saved his job at Minnesota by going 71/3 innings against the Twins, starts today against the Rangers. A second straight effective outing would do wonders for McLaren’s confidence in him.
If the M’s crash the playoffs, they’ll have earned it.