At least the slogan this year isn't a new day, a new way. That would be mocking the M's skid right now. Though, with this offense, Believe Big isn't much better, if better at all.
The Mariners are yet to win a game this homestand, and they have one more chance this afternoon. I think this is a must-win game. If they lose, they end up with an 0-9 homestand, including sweeps by the Rangers and Angels, two of their three in-division rivals. In particular, an Angels sweep would sting the rest of the year. They came into this series reeling, looking for their first win on their road trip.
Even more frustrating, we saw last night why the Angels have been bad early on this season. Joe Saunders looked terrible. He issued five walks, and that was plenty indicative of his command. To the M's credit, they got some runs off of him. Three to be precise, which is a full-blown eruption for this team right now.
As it turns out, all that uncharacteristic running around the bases for the M's offense left them dead in the water the rest of the way. The Angels bullpen "held" them scoreless the final four and a third innings in the game. I put "held" in quotes because the M's left 10 men on base over the final 4 stanzas, most notably the 3 men stranded in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Really, the Mariners had no business losing last night's ballgame. They should have beat up Saunders for more runs than they did; but, to their credit, they got some runs off him, and chased him before the sixth inning was over. That brought LA of A's (I still hate that they won't pick a city) atrocious bullpen in for three innings, in a tie ballgame. This was a recipe for success!
It continued to look like a recipe for success as Angels relievers started looking like...well, the 2010 Angels reliever that have posted an ERA well north of 5.00 so far this year. On top of that, the M's got some lucky breaks in the late innings too, most notably the really awkward hop Josh Wilson's grounder took past Howie Kendrick for a single. The Angels bullpen looked as bad as advertised, and on top of that the Mariners got an odd bounce or two in their favor.
Yet the Mariners still couldn't score, and they still lost.
Things will get better. Much like the start of the season, the offense is bound to get better. However, the first road trip was more or less a scuff on the season. This homestand is at best a gauge, and at worst a dagger. The Mariners have racked up five losses (and counting) against divisional foes, and now face a hole that they have to get out of.
If the M's lose today, I don't think that they recover. With a loss this afternoon, they would be at least three games behind everyone else in the division, and potentially as many as six and a half games back of the lead. Even if it only takes around 85 wins to grab the division title, the Mariners would have to go 74-57 the rest of the way to make that happen, and leapfrog three teams in the process.
Seattle is not 11-20 kind of bad, but on the flip side, is this team 74-57 kind of good? If the pitching and defense stay about as good as they have been so far, the offense will have to score about 4.75 runs a game the rest of the way to expect a 74-57 record. They are averaging 3.13 right now.
Maybe it is already too late.