Are they really doing this?
They were on pace for a historically futile season in the confines of Safeco Field, the power numbers were terrible, the team batting average was 20+ points below the worst in the history of the game and the Mariners couldn’t get out of their own way in Seattle.
The Fences at Safeco
Strangely, I don’t hear any talk of the fences being moved in as September approaches, regardless of whether I think that it will happen in the offseason, because I genuinely do. Fact of the matter is, there’s no room for foolish talk like that.
The Mariners are officially rolling and Mariners fans should just sit back and enjoy the ride, wherever it takes us.
One way or another, somebody is stepping up every night. And by every night, I mean every night, not just figuratively. Seattle has won 8 straight games, they finished this current home stand 8-1 and have won 15 of the last 16 games at Safeco.
A feat that quite literally seemed impossible a few short months ago.
The Mariners are the hottest team in the American League, in fact, at 25-13 they have the best record in the AL since the All Star break.
I almost don’t know how to feel. It’s been that long since I’ve truly felt like my favorite team had a much better than 50/50 shot to win every time they take the field but I feel that way, big time.
During yesterday’s game I was sitting at my 85 year old grandma’s house watching the end of the Mariners game with her, she never misses a game on TV.
In the top of the 8th inning the Indians had runners at first and second with one out, the score tied 1-1. Grandma looked at me and said “this isn’t looking too good Jared”. To which I replied, “Don’t sweat it grandma, they’re gonna win this game some how, some way”.
The rest is history, they got out of the inning with some Stephen Pryor gas, then Eric Thames did the rest in the bottom of the 8th inning with a two out double down the right field line to score Kyle Seager and John Jasoand the Mariners pulled off their 4th sweep since the break.
Same goes for the night before, but that night I was at the game with nearly 40,000 of my closest friends in the sea of yellow that was Felix Hernandez‘s “Supreme Court” in honor of the first perfect game in club history that he tossed the week before.
I knew on the drive down to the stadium that we were going to win that night, there was no doubt in my mind and I assure you, there was no doubt in the players or the coaches minds that they were going to win that game.
This feeling is incredible, why would I block it out because the talking heads think we don’t have a shot? The answer is, I won’t, I’ll enjoy every second of it because you never know when your favorite team will find a groove like this again.
The unpredictability of baseball
Look, I don’t have delusions that we somehow have Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and the gang in ’95 or even close to that level of talent.
What I do know is that baseball is the most unpredictable game on the planet. You hear baseball people all the time telling you that the game is more than 90% mental, yet they don’t believe what is coming out of their own mouths.
You can turn on ESPN and not see a Mariners game highlight for an entire week outside of top plays as we tend to be on the top 10 for a defensive play every night of the week.
My point here is that nobody nationally is talking about the best team the AL has to offer since the break because they somehow still think baseball is all about the names on the back of the jerseys, and outside of Felix Hernandez, we don’t have many recognizable names, yet.
Baseball is about confidence, about knowing you can win and knowing that the guy next to you will pick you up when you fail, because you will fail. Winning at the clip the Mariners are currently certainly builds confidence and confidence is what turns average ball players in to stars, even if it’s for a short amount of time.
Take this show on the road
The Mariners have an off day today where they’ll catch a plane headed for Chicago to face a White Sox team that finds themselves in first place, 2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.
Chris Sale, the White Sox ace who is in the discussion with Felix and a few others for Cy Young honors pitched against the Yankees on Wednesday, so we’ll miss him.
While the Sox just swept the Yankees in Chicago, they were playing .500 ball in the month of August before that against less than impressive teams and are certainly beatable when Sale isn’t on the mound.
After Chicago the M’s head to Minnesota to play a Twins team that they just swept at home and they’re 21 games under .500. The same team, that has some of the worst pitching in the game.
The Mariners can absolutely take this show on the road before they come back home to an Angels team that has been seriously reeling over the past several weeks.
Where we stand
The Seattle Mariners are 61-64 and sit 7 games behind the Oakland A’s for 2nd AL Wild Card spot. The same Oakland A’s that just lost one of their best pitchers on the season to a 50 game suspension.
To give a little perspective on that last sentence, last year’s World Series champions were 7.5 games out on this same date last year, so don’t tell me I can’t believe, because I can, and I will.
This is the best defensive team in baseball, for the entire first half the offense was the problem but now it’s summer and the ball will actually fly out of the ballpark, just ask the Eric Thames and Michael Saunders who’ve hit 6 HR’s between the two of them in the past 4 games.
They also have some of the best pitching the game has to offer with huge credit to Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas who’ve been the best 1-2 punch in baseball which certainly helps those defensive numbers.
Saunders and his Buhner impersonation
Michael Saunders was on with Dave “Softy” Mahler earlier this week after his two HR performance and had a few of those things to say that will get any fan of the Mariners fired up, I know I got butterflies during the interview.
Saunders mentioned that a media member to remain nameless asked him not too long ago, “Wouldn’t it be something if you guys finished at .500?” Saunders took a bit of offense to that question. His response, “Look man, are you kidding me?
We’re not playing for a .500 record here, we’re trying to win”. He later added, “We’re looking to get to the playoffs, looking for that wild card” and then said, “we’re looking to change this franchise, for good”.
I couldn’t help but think of Jay Buhner back in 1995 when “Refuse To Lose” was about to kick in to full affect.
When Jay was asked if he thought that the Mariners could find themselves winning the AL wild card when they were quite a ways out of the race, he acted totally offended and said, “Wild card? No, we’re going to win the division.”
You all know the rest of that story as that season created some of the best memories M’s fans have ever had.
Laugh if you want to
Look, I know things will really have to fall in to place for this team to make the postseason but being a sports fan is filled with hopes, dreams and sometimes some serious irrationality. I also know that there’s something special brewing with the Seattle Mariners as they’re learning how to win, one night at a time.
Believe what you want to believe, but this Mariners fan is rooting hard every night, looking at the standings every night and watching that “games back” number shrink, every night.
It’s been over a decade since we made the playoffs, and I’ll root for it to happen every opportunity I get!
Let’s hope these boys can keep this thing rolling, because it sure feels like they can to me…