Mariners’ AL West title hopes could rest with start of series vs Nationals

The Mariners can finally breathe, and will head to the other Washington to face the Nationals in a three-game series to kick off Memorial Day Weekend
Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles
Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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All along, I thought that getting out of Baltimore and New York with a record of 3-4 would be considered a win. Right now, those teams are clearly better than the Mariners. Leaving New York with their lunch money in-hand still was all that we needed, even though the team got beat around a bit, and we live to fight another day. They head out to the other Washington, with no day off, for a three-game set against the Nationals.

The Nationals are one of the only teams in baseball scoring fewer runs than the Mariners, even if it is just a single run less. However, they've really been struggling of late, going 2-9 over their last 11, while being outscored 34-51 over that stretch. It's actually worse than it sounds when you realize that they were shut out in back-to-back games against the White Sox. Half of their runs actually came in back-to-back games as well, in an 11-5 loss to the Phillies and a 12-3 victory over the Twins.

The Mariners could kick off a hot stretch against the Nationals

There is a small part of me that is worried about this series. The reason being that I don't want to see the Mariners lose focus after the mental struggle of playing such strong teams before this, and thinking that they'll have an easy series here. Instead, I hope that they realize the opportunity that sits ahead of them to really take hold of the AL West. It starts here, with the Washington Nationals.

Look at the next 6 series for the Mariners. Washington, Houston, Angels, Athletics, Royals, White Sox. The Nationals could be the jump start the Mariners need to heat them up to start this stretch. You're looking at a handful of teams that struggle to score, with some others that don't have good pitching. Sounds generic, but it'll give the pitchers a chance to breathe after Baltimore and New York, and the hitters a chance to FINALLY heat up.

Do you want to know who you should keep an eye on in this series? Jesse Winker. He was such a waste of space when he was on the Mariners, but seems to have found it a bit again in Washington. He's hitting .226/.346/.400 for the Nationals with six homers, nine doubles, and five steals. He's playing every day for them, and has already done more for the Nats than he did for the Mariners.

Also, for the pure joy of baseball, just watch CJ Abrams. He's one of the most talented youngsters in baseball, and is just one of those players that you can enjoy regardless of who he is playing against. Let's just hope he doesn't do too much damage against the Mariners.

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