The MLB season is young. With a little over a month in the books, things are now starting to pan out a bit, and teams are starting to show their true colors.
Hopefully this isn't the case for a struggling Seattle Mariners team that just ended an eight-game skid, with all of those losses coming at Safeco Field.
After finally getting their bats going in an 8-1 victory over the Angels, Seattle hits the road for eight games. Don't get me wrong; it's early in the year, but if the M's don't string together some wins on this trip, the season could start to completely slip away.
Seattle is currently sitting last in the AL West, not to mention last in the American League in offense. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez can put together all the solid starts they want, but if the run support stays as bad as it is now, there's no hope.
Clubhouse cancer Milton Bradley is now on the restricted list, and this is only going to help Seattle for the time being. Bradley can be a productive player, and he's shown glimpses of this so far, but until he straightens out his "emotion problems," he shouldn't be suiting up.
The Mariners called up outfielder Michael Saunders from Triple-A Tacoma in Bradley's place, and he could be the solution. In his first game on Sunday, Saunders hit his first major league home run and had two RBI. Look for him to make more appearances on this road trip that will have stops in Baltimore, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
The trip starts in Baltimore, where the Mariners need to capitalize. The Orioles have looked flat-out terrible thus far, and if Seattle can sweep this three-game series, it would give them some much needed momentum going into Tampa Bay.
The Orioles will face the meat of Seattle's pitching rotation with both Lee and Hernandez pitching in Baltimore. Lee has had two strong starts since returning from the DL, but the lack of offense cost Seattle both of those games, while Hernandez has struggled as of late.
Hernandez shouldn't be an issue, and his general consistency leads me to believe that he can bounce back.
This series could very well be a sweep for Seattle as long as their aces get moderate run support.
Tampa Bay and Oakland could be a different story. Seattle is 3-4 versus Oakland this year, and were swept by the Rays to start off their eight-game losing streak.
Seattle needs to at least break even in these five games.
The Rays embarrassed Seattle in the three-game series earlier this year, putting up 21 runs to the Mariners five.
There's no question that run support will be a factor in this series for the Mariners, but winning will also greatly depend on if Seattle's pitching staff can take Evan Longoria out of the equation for the Rays.
The Mariners have talent on the roster, and it seems like this team is better than their 12-19 record. However, this road trip will be a huge indicator in determining whether the Mariners belong in the cellar, or if they're a good team that's had a lousy start.