Seattle Mariners: Having Survived a Tough Stretch, Team Could Now Glide

Alex CarsonCorrespondent IIIJune 20, 2011

SEATTLE - JUNE 19:  Dustin Ackley #13 of the Seattle Mariners watches the flight of his triple against the Philadelphia Phillies at Safeco Field on June 19, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Phillies 2-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

A month or two ago, if I told you that the Mariners would be just a half game out of first place after winning a series against the Phillies (in which the lone loss was pinned on Felix Hernandez), I'd expect you to laugh at me.

But that's right where the Mariners are.

Beginning on May 27th, when the Yankees came to town, the Mariners played a stretch of 23 games against teams with a collective record of 266-236. While Seattle got to face Minnesota, Baltimore and Anaheim, they also had to face the aforementioned Yankees, Rays, Tigers and Phillies.

It's pretty amazing that this club, with all their offensive woes, made it through that stretch with a 13-10 record.

There isn't much of a mystery here—the Mariners' pitching has been fantastic and has carried them to a bunch of wins against superior teams. Their wins haven't come in many blowouts, but rather a bunch of low scoring affairs.

Up next for the club: Washington, Florida, Atlanta, San Diego, Oakland and Anaheim.

That's a stretch of 19 games, leading to the All-Star break, in which the Mariners face teams with a collective 205-231 mark. Only Atlanta has a winning record.

After the all-star break, it's a completely different story.

There will be a healthy dose of the Rangers (seven games), Red Sox (six), Rays (six), Indians (three) and Yankees (three).

Mixed in will be a few series against some currently sub-.500 teams, but the bulk of the second half will be another tough stretch for the Mariners.

Now is the time for this club to pad its record.

As they head into the dog days of summer with a lineup that still doesn't hit consistently and a solid pitching staff with some heavy risks, they need to play well these next 19 games.

This stretch could very well define the outcome of the season.