The Seattle Mariners will start the first full week after the All-Star break at home for seven games. With their sights set on a 2014 Wild Card berth, the M’s need to make the best of their home-field advantage in order to gain some ground on their AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, and also to put some distance between them and teams like the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, who are both now only 1.5 games back of the M’s for the final Wild Card spot.
While the Mariners will host the New York Mets (46-52), the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles (53-44) will be in L.A. to take on the Angels. This is a matchup that favors the Mariners. The Mets have a decent rotation, but struggle at the plate in many instances. M’s manager Lloyd McClendon should be able to find a way to keep the games close so that they can lean on the strength of their bullpen in the later innings if need be.
The Angels will no doubt have their hands full with the bat of OF Nelson Cruz, and baseball’s ninth-highest scoring team.
Once the Orioles’ three-game road trip ends in L.A., they head to Safeco for a four-game set against the Mariners. Seattle is lucky to be getting the Orioles after having already faced the Oakland Athletics and the Angels for a grueling six games amidst their West Coast road trip. Meanwhile, the Angels will have their hands full when another division leader, the Detroit Tigers, roll into Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Thursday.
With the Yankees’ rotation currently crippled by injuries and the Blue Jays having taken significant steps back since their hot streak in May, not to mention injuries to 1B Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Brett Lawrie and DH Adam Lind, the Mariners need to be opportunists this week. They must seize the moment in order to build their confidence levels and give them some breathing room in the AL playoff race.