In the final game of June, the Mariners came out swinging against Javier Vasquez and the New York Yankees, putting up seven runs for the second consecutive game against the Yankees. That helped Seattle finish out the month with a 14-13 record, including wins in seven out of its last 10.
The Mariners averaged 4.3 runs per game over those 10 games, thanks in large part to rookie Michael Saunders (four home runs, 10 RBI) and a resurgent Chone Figgins, who stole 10 bases.
With Cliff Lee being the best pitcher in the American League, Felix Hernandez looking like his dominant self again, and the reacquisition of slugging first baseman Russell Branyan, things are beginning to look up for the once-struggling Mariners.
I'm here to warn you, however: Do not expect that magic from the 1995 season to show itself again 15 years later.
I would love nothing more than to see the Mariners, the team I love, make another historic run at the postseason. But sadly the pit the Mariners dug for themselves with that awful May will, in the end, keep them from making that surge toward glory.
Despite the fact that the Mariners have shown great improvement over the last two weeks, Lee is still as good as gone. While this sucks for the fan, it would be more damaging in the long run for them to hold on to the former Cy Young winner just to finish out the season as a .500 club.
With Lee, the Mariners have a chip that will allow them to bring in guys who can help the club next year.
If they keep Lee, they still don't make the playoffs. Sure, they'll get two draft picks when he goes and signs with another club—and he will sign with another club—and the team ends up worse off than when they started just to finish off a disappointing season as an average ball club.
I know playing the rest of the season with Felix, Lee, and a healthy Eric Bedard in the rotation is an exciting scenario—and there is always that eternal hope that lives in the fan's mind that says, with a little luck, they can pull this off—but we also have to think about the future.
I'm glad to see the team I love playing better ball, but I fear it's just too little, too late.
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