It was a good chase for the Seattle Mariners, but it looks like time is running out for them to finish at .500 for the 2012 campaign. A seven game winning streak in late August pushed the Mariners to within 3 games of .500, at 61-64. Since then, the Mariners have gone 9-14 against a tougher schedule, teams pushing for the playoffs. For the Mariners to get to break even, they’ll have to get hot down the stretch and win eleven of their last fourteen games. Not impossible, but a stiff task stands in front of them.
The schedule will do the Mariners no favors. They got a fighting mad Baltimore team last night coming off dropping two of three to the other Wild Card leader, Oakland. Baltimore did what teams pushing for playoff spots are supposed to do and took care of business with a 10-4 win. The Mariners’ last fourteen games will all be against playoff contending squads: two more against Baltimore, three versus the Rangers, three games in Oakland, and six against the Angels. Seattle had the worst record in the American League at the All-Star Break. Since then, they’ve passed 5 teams in the A.L. And, the Mariners may be in last place in the A.L. West, but the A.L. West has been one of the best divisions in baseball. The A.L. West is the only current division with three teams over eighty wins, and it looks like will land two playoff teams. Seattle has played their Western foes well: going 7-9 vs. Texas and Oakland, and 5-8 vs. the Angels. Even though the Angels have a three game lead in the series, Seattle has beaten Jered Weaver twice.
Progress has been made by Seattle this season. The seventy wins they already have is the second best total in the last five years. In Eric Wedge’s first season in 2011, the Mariners were 67-95. Right now, they are three games better than that at 70-78, with fourteen games to play. The Mariners stuck by their young bats, and they have been rewarded with a better season than 2011. Kyle Seager has put up a fantastic year with the bat hitting .258 with 18 HR and 81 RBI. OF Michael Saunders rebounded from a slow start to hit .249 with 16 HR and 50 RBI. And, Jesus Montero, playing every day for the first time in his career since a trade from the Yankees, belted .264 with 15 HR and 56 RBI.
So, the glass is half full in Seattle. But, they are still problems that need to be addressed in the off season. The overall offensive team rankings scream why this team is 8 games under .500: they are 29th in runs scored (561), and they are dead last in batting average (.233), on base percentage (.294), and slugging percentage (.365). Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but this offense simply isn’t good enough for the Mariners to get to the next level of a possible division title or wild card. Saunders, Seager, and Montero are a good start. But, the Mariners need more, much more offensively. The pitching is there. Considering the team offensive numbers I just listed, 70-78 is an accomplishment. The Mariners need to add the bats to go with the pitching or this team isn’t moving forward.