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8/30/2007 10:27:00 AM

AL West: Seattle's last act?

by Gennaro Filice

Sorry, Seattle, but I think that portly gal just hit the high note.

The Mariners entered this week with a golden opportunity, facing division leader Los Angeles for a three-game set in the comfy confines of Safeco Field. Trailing the Angels by just two games at dawn on Monday, a sweep would have given Seattle the division lead for the first time since April 17.

Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out as planned...

Instead, the Angels decisively swept Seattle by a combined score of 24-8, improving their season record against the Mariners to 11-4 and increasing their division lead to five games (their largest edge since June). Following the sweep, Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "I think this series probably put in their head they need to be worried about the wild card and not the division." I have to agree with OC.

With just 29 games left, Seattle faces the extremely daunting task of closing a five-game gap on Los Angeles, and that's before taking into account both teams' remaining schedules. Other than facing off in three-game series in September, the Angels and Mariners finish the season in dissimilar fashion. Outside of Seattle, Los Angeles will play just one more team with a record north of .500 (in a four-game series against Cleveland). The Halos should rack up Ws against the likes Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, Chicago and Tampa Bay. On the other hand, Seattle has an extremely challenging slate, chock-full of winning teams. Today, the Mariners begin a 10-game road trip that includes one make-up game at Cleveland and three-game sets at Toronto and New York and Detroit... Oh, my! Just for good measure, Seattle also faces Cleveland four more times later in September.

The Mariners have been a pleasant surprise in 2007, but it's obvious that they've been playing over their heads. The events that took place over the last three days exposed them as an inferior team to the Angels in almost every category (hitting, pitching, coaching, etc.). Combine this with their remaining schedule, and the Mariners' division-title dreams are cooked. The 2007 A.L. West pennant belongs to Los Angeles.

On the plus side, Seattle's still tied with New York for the wild card lead, three games ahead of defending A.L. champ Detroit. But let's be honest: The Mariners' grasp on first place is tenuous and weakening by the day. Regardless of how good their bullpen is, the rotation (Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista, Jeff Weaver and Horatio Ramirez) makes this team highly suspect in a meaningful month of September.

Seattle's play has rejuvenated an underrated baseball city, but unfortunately this improbable run will end in September, not October.

  • Boston pitcher Josh Beckett is tied for the major league lead with 16 wins. Turns out the Rangers could have acquired Beckett, had they been willing to give up John Danks back in 2005. Whoops...

  • After multiple surgeries last year, Jose Guillen signed a one-year deal with the Mariners. This risky signing by Seattle has paid off, as Guillen's hitting .293 with 19 homers and 83 RBIs. Now it's being reported that the Mariners are close to reaching a three-year deal with the 31-year-old outfielder.

  • Melissa Lockard over at Athletic Supporters is absolutely shocked that the A's let go of pitcher Esteban Loaiza for nothing in return. As the entry says, "This has a feel of a move the A's would have made in 1996. It stinks."

  • After one of the worst starts in recent memory (1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 ER), it looks like Ervin Santana will lose his spot in the Angels' rotation...again.
  • Labels:

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