By Shannon Drayer
OAKLAND – Coming off a 2-4 road trip against Boston and Baltimore and a 2-4 homestand against Toronto and Milwaukee, I think it is safe to call a 5-4 road trip against Tampa, Texas and Oakland somewhat unexpected.
It is encouraging to see the Mariners win games against teams we most likely will see playing in October. It is especially encouraging to see how they won these games. While the month of July was fun to watch because of the numbers the offense put up, this stretch may have been more important because of the numbers they didn't put up.
In July they were at or near the top of the league in home runs and power numbers, over this stretch of nine games they were last in most numbers. What we saw was a glimmer of the ability to manufacture runs. Timely hitting, timely walks, an occasional bunt and taking advantage of what was being given to them added up to what they needed in five of the nine games. That paired with mistake free baseball (which obviously we didn't always see but it was better) is exactly what you have to do when you are going up against the teams and pitchers they were facing.
The pitching is still a concern but that is fixable. Hopefully they go into next season with more depth. In past years the "next" guy was there in the bullpen should the closer falter. He wasn't this year. Stephen Pryor got hurt and Carter Capps was nowhere near ready. The bullpen hadn't been a concern in general manager Jack Zduriencik's tenure in the past. They now know it has to be.
We will look into that at a later date. Right now it is wheels up and headed home. Some quick numbers before I have to shut this down:
• The Mariners are 16-15 since the All-Star break.
• Since Brad Miller's first start on June 28 the team is 25-22.
• With Wednesday's win they hold a 10-6 advantage over the A's this season.
• They're 31-26 against the division and haven't had a winning record against the West since 2009.
Talk to you from Seattle.