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Critical Road Stretch Begins

Raul IbanezThe Mariners started a 20 game stretch in which they play 17 on the road with a resounding 9-4 victory over the Twins last night. Much is being made of this stretch, especially because the Angels started a stretch last night in which they play 17 of their next 20 at home. The deck looks badly stacked against the Mariners. However, after looking at the schedule, the situation is not as bad as it seems.

To start with, the Angels are going against the Yankees right now. After that, they face the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Athetics, and Indians. As for the Yankees, after the Angels they face the Tigers, Red Sox, Devil Rays, Mariners, and Royals. The Indians face the Tigers, Royals, Twins, Mariners (for one game), White Sox, Twins and Angels; and the Tigers face the Indians, Yankees, Royals, Athletics, White Sox, and the Mariners.

Sorry for the snooze fest that was the last paragraph, but if you take the time to read it you'll notice some redundancy. That's bad literary form, but good news for the Mariners. Indeed, 17 out of 20 on the road will be an arduous test, but if the Mariners hang tough they will still be in the race at the end of this brutal stretch. The Angels may be poised to make a run, but if they do so they will beat up on the Yankees and Indians. If the Yankees were to make a run, they would have to keep the Tigers and Angels in place. I could keep going, but basically these next 20 games for the Angels, Mariners, Indians, Tigers, and Yankees is a big, tangled web. Because of that, it will be difficult for more than one team to go on a serious run while the M's are out on the road. In fact, since the Mariners play all the teams they are competing with in this 20 game stretch, they could very well be the ones distancing themselves, especially with the way they've been swinging the bats.

Without a doubt, the M's face a brutal stretch at an extremely critical point in the year, and the difficulty is magnified by all the upcoming home games the Angels have. However, it is nice that the Mariners get to face all these teams they are fighting against for a playoff spot. It gives them control of their own destiny. It's also nice knowing that even if they only go .500 or so in this stretch, it is nearly impossible for every other team to get hot and leave them in the dust. The schedule isn't as unfavorable as it looks.