After Friday night’s frustrating debacle, I decided to take the last two games off. The Mariners, apparently, thought that sounded like a fantastic idea, and followed suit. The road trip that started 5-0 with wins over good teams ends at 5-5 after getting swept by one of the worst teams in baseball. And swept in convincing fashion, a beatdown where the Mariners didn’t put up a fight and were outscored 24 to 7.
By all accounts, the team is exhausted. They have their first day off on Monday since June 7th, and that was their first day off since May 14th. They also didn’t have a game on April 24th, due to a rainout, and they had a normal day off on April 16th, as well as a postponed game in Boston on April 12th. Since the snowout series, the Mariners have played 63 games in 69 days. Tomorrow is the fourth day in two and a half months that they haven’t had to go to the ballpark to prepare for a game. That’s tough.
But, unfortunately, that’s also baseball. Lost in all the talk about the Mariners scheduling around the makeup games is that those games involve another team – the Cleveland Indians. Every time the Mariners jump on a plane to Cleveland, the Tribe also have to come to the park on what was supposed to be an off day for their club. So, for comparison, let’s look at the Indians schedule.
The Indians just played their 13th game in a row and are headed to Philadelphia for games 14, 15, and 16 before an upcoming off day on Thursday. Their last day off was June 4th, and before that, it was May 14th. That was the only day in May that the Indians didn’t play baseball. They also had a day off on April 16th. Since the snowout series, the Indians have played 65 games in 69 days, and by the time they get another day off, it will have been 68 games in 72 days.
The Indians are 40-28, first place in the A.L. Central, having outscored their opponents by 46 runs on the year. They’ve played two more games since the end of the snowout series than the Mariners have in the same amount of days. I’m sure they’re a tired bunch, but unfortunately, I can’t find any quotes in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer to prove it. Maybe they were too tired to give interviews?
Or, alternately, perhaps they’ve overcome their exhaustion and continued to win baseball games because they’re a good team. A playoff team. A team with a well constructed roster able to provide organizational depth when the preseason rotation falls to pieces.
The schedule has been tough on the Mariners. It’s been tough on the Indians, too. One of these teams has shown the ability to overcome the challenge and keep winning enough games to keep themselves firmly entrenched in a pennant race. The other is taking tomorrow off, regrouping, and hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates at Safeco Field on Tuesday night.
Two teams with tough schedules born out of bad weather. One is still in first place, while the other saw their playoff hopes put on life support this weekend. Perhaps it’s not the schedule? Perhaps it’s the roster.