The Seattle Mariners are going on the road, and they will be starting a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). At the risk of putting forth some reckless hyperbole, this may be the biggest series of the season.
At the moment, the Mariners are on the brink of losing ground in the playoff hunt. One game is certainly an obstacle that can be overcome, but time is slipping away. After all, there are only 14 games remaining. There is little room for error.
The best-case scenario is that the Mariners relive the first series of the year, sweep the Angels and take one step closer to securing a playoff spot. The worst-case scenario is that the Angels act like the best team in baseball and the Mariners fold faster than Superman on laundry day.
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Realistically, the series may unfold somewhere in the middle. At this point, a split might actually be a welcome outcome before the M’s head to Houston. The Angels have played some really good ball in the second half of the season and they have a ferocious offense. Los Angeles is first in runs, third in team batting average and fourth in on-base percentage. Compare those stats to a Mariners team that is 19th, 22nd and 27th in those particular categories.
When it comes to hitting, advantage Angels. Not even close.
Unfortunately, the Mariners desperately need these games. If they do not do well in this series, they have to hope that the Kansas City Royals, Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers have similar struggles this week.
This will be a crucial test of whether pitching really does win. The Mariners will send Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez to the mound in this series, so they will have their opportunities to play to their strengths.
Dangerous offense versus powerful rotation and stingy bullpen. Who will win out? By Thursday, the fate of the 2014 Seattle Mariners may be determined.