The best way to make hay in the AL West is to beat up on the teams that also play in the division.
And so far so good for the Mariners.
They open a three-game series against the defending division champion Angels tonight in Anaheim sporting an overall record of 10-6, and an even more impressive 5-1 mark against their AL West colleagues — sweeping the Athletics in a three-game series in Oakland to end their first road trip of the regular season on a high note, and opened the nine-game homestand by taking two-of-three from the Angels at Safeco Field.
Of all the Major League divisions, the AL West is the only one with just four teams, which means the Mariners, Angels, Athletics and Rangers have more intradivision games than anyone in the big leagues. Therefore, how well those teams do against their division brethren goes a long way in determining the division champion.
When the Mariners were perennial playoff contenders from 2000 through ’03, they fared well against AL West teams, going 45-27 against the Rangers, 44-27 against the Angels and 37-33 against the Athletics.
Seattle had some dominating head-to-head results — 15-5 vs. the Rangers in 2001; 15-4 against the Angels that same season; and 12-7 against the Athletics in ’03, the last time the Mariners won at least 90 games in a season.
But the shoe has been on the other foot for the past five seasons.
Not counting this season, the Mariners are 36-59 against the Angels; 39-55 against the Athletics and 40-55 against the Rangers. That is 48 games under .500 and, not surprisingly, four last-place finishes in the the past five seasons.
The Mariners were 5-14 against the Angels last season, winning just two of the nine games played at Angel Stadium.
In case you were wondering, the Mariners will play 19 games against each of the AL West foes this season.
— Jim Street