On a roll, M's offense will be key to chances against Angles

First off, sorry about no post yesterday -- I was off working on a project that I hope to tell you more about in the next couple of days. Now, onto our regularly scheduled programming ...

In a post on Friday, I cautioned against getting too wrapped up in a 5-1 road trip against Tampa Bay and Kansas City. And I still believe that whipping up on the two worst teams in the American League is no major accomplishment.

That said, the Mariners now have an opportunity -- for the first time in three years -- to make themselves relevant again.

They head into their Personal Hell for the next three days with what probably will be their last chance to truly become a factor in the AL West this season.

Don't believe me, you who think a 5- or 6-game deficit in June isn't that big of a deal?

Following the M's loss to the Indians to kick off this road trip, they were 5 games back of the Angels. After winning 5 of 6 against the Devil Rays and Royals, Seattle now is ... 4.5 games back.

Win 5 of 6, pick up 1/2 game.

But that's the way it goes in baseball. That's why the loss to the Devil Rays at the end of that series proves so costly -- 3.5 games is so much different than 4.5, because you only have so many opportunities to make up games on teams that are playing .550-.600 baseball. It's darn hard to make up ground. Simple series wins just won't do the trick.

And a series win won't do the trick here, either. While winning two of three will seem like a huge victory -- especially when you've lost 5 of 6 to the Angels this year -- it'll only get you one game in the standings.

No. If the Mariners are truly serious about being relevant, nothing less than a sweep will do.

It's obviously a tall order, especially when you consider they'll be facing Bartolo Colon, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver, while conversely sending Miguel Batista, rookie Ryan Feierabend (probably) and Felix Hernandez to the mound. Here's how those Angels starters have fared against the M's:

  • Colon: Two starts in 2007, 2-0, 2.57 ERA.
  • Santana: One start in 2007, 1-0, 1.29 ERA.
  • Weaver: No starts in 2007, but 2-1 with 2.89 ERA in three starts last year.
Like I said, a tall order. But if you want to run with the best, you've got to beat the best, and if that's going to happen, the offense has to show up over these next three days. It's great to score tons of runs against some of the worst pitching in the majors, but everyone does that. They've got to score some runs against the best pitching staff in the division -- something they've absolutely failed to do this year. Beating the crud out of Gil Meche, who has been a real effective pitcher this year (much to the dismay of Mariners fans), might be an indication the offense is ready to take that next step. We'll see.

So, while it's great to beat up on the weak sisters of the league, at some point you have to prove that you belong. Sweep this series, and you're just 1.5 back.

How good can this team be this year? We're about to find out.

Sweep the Angels, and I'll believe anything's possible.

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