This season has been a tale of two Mariners teams. The first half saw the balls bouncing their way and many a one-run win. They found ways to win consistently. The hitting was clicking while the unproven starters went deep into games. They did fine in April but then woke up in May and most of June.
For the first time since 2007, the team was comfortably over .500. As well, the M’s were comfortably snug in the second wild-card spot. I personally found myself discussing what playoff spot the Mariners would snag, not IF they would even make it.
Unfortunately, the M’s have played consistently mediocre for almost exactly two months. Many fans may say that the struggle began in July, just before the All-Star break. But I have a hunch for the ages.
The Mariners have truly not been the same since Giancarlo Stanton walked the team off en route to a five-run Yankee comeback. His blast exploited the Mariners’ usual hard luck ways and for the first time this season, the home team couldn’t find a way to win a close one.
So did Giancarlo blow the 2018 Mariner mojo to bits? Or is this a long two-month nightmare that the team will wake up from once September begins? Tonight’s loss at the Padres is one of the many straws on this exhausted camel’s back. The under-producing offense made San Diego rookie, Jacob Nix, look like their former Jake Peavy. They’re trying to avoid a sweep against one of baseball’s worst teams.
Where’s the pride? Where’s the clutch hitting? The team has lost their edge. However, they have proven they can hold status with the American League’s big boys. It didn’t seem like any fluke when we once upon a time trailed the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros.
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In a two month flash, the rival A’s have stolen that role from the Mariners as they find themselves gazing up at the playoff positions. But the 2018 M’s may not be a fluke since they are still a solid amount of games ahead of the other 24 AL teams.
So where do the Mariners stand? They essentially sit sandwiched between the AL’s final playoff spot and the clubs playing spoiler. In other words, this 2018 squad may not be great but they’re not horrible.
Whether or not this team makes the playoffs, they have the starting pieces with most of the lineup. Hopefully, Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino are just having off years with one under Mendoza and one under .230.
The Mariners are in contender vs. pretender limbo in an AL that has had a wide separation all year between the great teams and the ones hard to watch.
However, the Mariners showed their ability to be a big boy earlier in the season. So keep the faith, M’s nation. This team is down but not out. The Astros or A’s could fade. We could surge.
September can make a roller coaster ride out of anyone’s playoff hopes. At least this lineup has more of the potential to surge unlike the 2012 or 2013 teams, where scoring any runs per game seemed as rare as winning the lottery. These guys can do it. But more fans need to believe they can. That kind of mindset is contagious.