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Good Start to the Second Half

Raul IbanezA series between the Mariners and Indians sounded a lot more appealing at the start of the season, but that can be said about pretty much any series the Mariners play. Still, as long as Felix is on the mound, this team is fun to watch. I won't say that Felix's growth this year has gone overlooked, but it is harder to notice players that take steps forward when the front office continues to talk about how much the team has underachieved. Sure, the Indians offense is bad, but Felix had few problems dispatching them, and his ERA now sits at a shimmering 2.95.

The only thing out of the ordinary with Felix's start last night was the run support he got. Aaron Laffey was shaky, and Raul Ibanez made him pay dearly with his grand slam. With Felix on the mound, that felt like it would be plenty, but then Jose Lopez added a three-run homer a couple innings later. It was nice to see some power and some runners on base out of this offense, especially for the pitcher that deserves them more than anyone else.

It is just one game, but maybe it is a sign that this team will bounce back a bit in the second half. J.J. had a nice rehab outing in AAA last night too. Bryan LaHair is finally up. Apparently he had a little injury, which is why the M's did not call him up once they released Sexson. That makes the bizarre timing of the move a little more palatable, but I still would have called him up. Tug barely played, and now LaHair probably won't with a string of left-handed starters. It will be awkward if LaHair takes a whole week to play after Riggleman said that he plans to give LaHair plenty of playing time, but at least he is on the team. Riggleman is even thinking about putting Jeff Clement out there a bit at first from time to time, a move the whole organization has shied away from, with little good reason, for years. What's next; will they consider cutting Jose Vidro, or putting Brandon Morrow in the starting rotation?

Maybe there is reason for hope in the second half. Maybe this team will finally put its best product on the field. The Mariners are inching towards maximizing its own personnel with each move, and maybe one of these days Riggleman will wake up and realize that the most worthless player in all of baseball should not bat clean-up on a regular basis. Maybe, just maybe, what is left of the season will be better than what has already transpired.