In the past, we’ve quite often made light of the fact that the Mariners and Padres have been declared “natural rivals” by the media. It doesn’t really make any sense, as the two teams have never had any type of real rivalry between them – at least not a noticeable one. Over the next three days though, I think we should forget all of that, and pretend they are our hated rivals. Think of them as the Angels – hate them with a passion, and want nothing more than to see them lose, because this weekend is huge. Is it fate that the Mariners’ 2010 season appears to have come down to this, a 3 game series at the Safe against the Pads, our natural rivals? Perhaps, if you believe in that sort of thing. But whether you do or not, this is what it’s come down to.
The Padres come into Seattle with one of the best records in the National League – and while they’ve been overperforming, they’re still without a doubt a more talented team than they’ve been in years past. They aren’t going to lay down and die, but this is a series that the Mariners absolutely need to win. They sit at 8.5 back now, as the Rangers start a series with the Cubs – a series that you have to expect them to win. If we show up to play the Padres and we don’t hit, or Felix and Snell pitch like shit, or the bullpen collapses, or all of the above, we could enter next week 10.5 or 11.5 games out. If that happens, the season becomes a lost cause, and a firesale becomes the most likely outcome.
If they can play good baseball though, and with a little help from the Cubs, gain a game or two of ground, that could be equally huge. At that point, you’re at least close enough so that some guys getting healthy and some luck turning around could quickly catapult you right back into the thick of things. For those of you that have been accusing me of being pessimistic as of late, listen to me now; this season is not a lost cause yet. However, it could be real soon.
There are still several obvious moves that this team hasn’t made, but Milton Bradley is back, Sean White is gone, and Ken Griffey Jr. is no longer starting. While that’s still only a start, it may just be enough to keep this team in the race. I guess we’ll know by Sunday.