IRBL: 7 is a magic number
The next series is a 5 game home set against the Angels, our closest competition. Taking 3 out of 5 would give the M's at least a tie for the division.
This club is held together with string and candlewax. Big stick for this team? Try Jack Wilson (.281/.321/.454). Chad Tracy and Aaron Boone both have 20 homers. In fact, we've got a remarkable 8 players with double digit dingers. Then again we've also got a couple of top notch double killing leaders - Boone (23) and Marcus Giles (20). All in all, the Mariners are 11th out of 14 in hitting - .254/.319/.391.
Our strength has been pitching though as the season has worn on, the Mariners have slid down the rankings to sixth. Anchoring the staff have been a trio of veterans - Scott Elarton (18-9, 3.57 ERA, 1.22 WHiP), Mike Mussina (13-12, 3.81, 1.29) and Pedro Astacio (9-8, 3.53, 1.14). The bullpen is deep with contributions from Jeff Farnsworth (29 Saves, 1.13, 0.74), Todd Jones (7 SV, 5 Holds, 1.31, 0.85), Danys Baez (7 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.72, 1.44), Matt Miller (7 Holds, 2.92, 1.22) and Brian Shouse (14 Holds, 4.88, 1.41).
Whatever it is - luck, brilliant management, chutzpah, team chemistry or a collection of 1s and 0s in the right order - the Mariners tonight sit atop the AL West with an 82-70 record closing down on an unlikely playoff spot. It has helped playing in the IRBL's weakest division, but it has been a dogfight all season long.
If we can get past the Angels in the upcoming series, the Mariners look certain to play against the Tigers (97-50) in the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers pwn the M's with a perfect 9-0 record.