As we near the end of July, the Seattle Mariners can look back on the month that was and find a lot of things to be proud of.
The team has secured their first winning month of the year, holding a 15-8 record with two games remaining in July. They sported the top-scoring offense for much of the month and will finish July in the MLB top three in runs scored. Most importantly, however, is that the M’s hot month has given them a chance — albeit a small one — at a playoff berth. Seattle is just 7.5 games out of a wild card spot with 57 games remaining on the schedule.
And now the real test comes: August.
The Mariners will close out July on the road where they will visit the owners of the AL’s best record in the Boston Red Sox, and will follow that up with a trip to take on the Baltimore Orioles, who currently hold one of the Wild Card spots that the Mariners are pursuing.
Seattle actually matches up quite well with Boston in this series, as the M’s will send their three best starters to the mound in Joe Saunders, Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez.
The Red Sox could essentially be entering a trap-series on Tuesday with the Mariners; Boston’s off-day on Monday turned into a game day, and a pivotal one at that with the Tampa Bay Rays coming in to make up a postponed game and trailing the Red Sox by just a half game in the division. If the Mariners have indeed turned a corner, they need to take at least two of three from Boston under the given circumstances.
The Baltimore series will be a tough one to win with the Mariners having to rely on the back end of their rotation against one of the AL’s most feared lineups, but if Seattle can return home with a 4-2 record from this road trip, they will have passed their first exam of August.
The Mariners will have a couple of favorable series against the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers when they return to Safeco Field. Winning both of those series at home could put Seattle at or possibly above the .500 mark.
If that’s the case, the Mariners will head back out on the road for what would be the team’s most important road trip of the season, as they will travel to face World Series contenders Tampa Bay, Texas, and Oakland.
Most of baseball hasn’t taken a ton of notice to what the Mariners have been doing over the past month, but July has made many Mariners fans believe that their team has turned the corner after years of disappointment. August will be the most important month of the year for the Mariner organization and their fan base.
Will King Felix, Kyle Seager and co. show the rest of the league that big things are coming to a team that hasn’t been relevant in a decade? Or was their fantastic July just a fluke?