When the Major League Baseball schedules were released prior to the season, it was easy to point to the Seattle Mariners’ current 14-day, 12-game road trip as a big one.
Now, nearly four months into the season with the Anaheim Angels even with Seattle in the loss column and just a half-game back in the American League West standings, the fortnight that begins tonight in Cleveland is crucial.
When teams head out on the road, the usual goal is to at least break even. In order to gain any ground on Anaheim, the Mariners might have to do better than that.
“Anybody out there that’s going to make the playoffs or win the division has to play good baseball on the road and we’ve done a pretty good job of that,” said Mariners infielder Mike Blowers. “We just need to continue it and not worry about how long it is.”
The Angels also begin a sizable trip today. They face New York, Boston and Cleveland three times apiece.
“Whoever has the better road trip is gonna come back with the lead,” Blowers said of the race in the A.L. West. “We just need to play good baseball and let the rest take care of itself.”
Seattle has the third-best road record in the American League at 26-21 and is 2-0 at Cleveland. The Indians are much-improved since the first time Seattle was there, though, and lead the A.L. Central.
The Mariners go from Cleveland to New York, where they will face three tough pitchers in Hideki Irabu, Andy Pettitte and David Cone. Then it’s off to face the A.L.’s top-hitting team for average, the Boston Red Sox, for two before a four-game series at Milwaukee.
“We really need to get out there and bear down,” M’s right fielder Jay Buhner said. “We’re going head-to-head against some pretty good teams.”
Once the M’s get through this trip - they return Aug. 5 against Baltimore - the schedule is favorable for them.
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