A three-game series at Safeco Field against the Texas Rangers this weekend matches the Seattle Mariners against a team that's been to the World Series each of the past two years and looks primed to make it three in a row.
How do they match up? Well, the standings say they're 19 1/2 games behind the Rangers, and Texas has the full package - offense, pitching and defense.
With 12 games left counting tonight, the Mariners are three wins better than all of 2011, but that's hardly the kind of leap they hoped to take. The franchise needs wins to show improvement.
The Mariners players need wins to heal ailing pysches. They can't erase their statistics in what's left of a disappointing season - no hitter above.270, no pitcher with more than 14 wins - so all that's left is wins.
Hisashi Iwakuma has given his team the chance to win virtually all but one of his starts, and the bullpen is fresh. But keeping Seattle close means someone has to, like, score for them, too.
In a season nearly over, the Rangers have scored more than 200 more runs (758) than the Mariners (564), who once again have scored less than anyone in the American League. Texas is hitting .275 with 185 home runs, Seattle .232 with 134.
The Mariners don't match up well on paper, but they're 7-9 against the Rangers in 2012. In this, the last meeting between the two teams, the Mariners can do damage - and add to that precious win count - only if they can reanimate a dead offense.
Here's their lineup:
Dustin Ackley 2BFranklin Gutierrez CFKyle Seager 3BJesus Montero DHJustin Smoak 1BMichael Saunders LFMiguel Olivo CCasper Wells RRCarlos Triunfel SSHisashi Iwakuma RHP