Game 26, Rangers at M’s
Happy Felix Day!
Millwood vs Hernandez, 7:10 pm.
Not Gutierrez, LF
Junior has an “inflamed colon”, so he’s out for the game. Sweeney steps in at DH, and Beltre and Branyan flip-flop spots in order to keep a little more L-R-L balance in the middle of the order. I’d bet they’ll switch back once Junior is healthy enough to play again.
Other than that, pretty standard line-up. Remember when Wak was trying to keep everyone guessing with his line-up of the day? He’s basically settled on a generic order at this point. Oh well.
These games feel more important than your normal May match-up against the team that is, probably the worst in the division. Whether this team is “for real” or not, the further they can distance themselves from the rest of the division as early as possible, the better, because there’s a bar that this team needs to be above come July in order to avoid trading away Bedard-Beltre-Washburn. Wins in April and May actually matter more to this team than wins in August and September, because there’s a bonus or penalty that will be enforced on the roster come the summer depending on the team’s win-loss record.
Given that, and with Felix and Bedard pitching the next two days, the M’s have a chance to get a 4+ game cushion over everyone else in the division. That might not sound like a lot, but given the mediocrity of the other three teams in the AL West, a 4 or 5 game lead in May means that you’re almost certainly within a game or two of first place come July 31st. Worst case scenario, you have a melt down and lose 6-8 games in the standings in two months. If you have a 5 game lead over the other three teams, that melt down still probably leaves you in second place and a single series away from retaking the lead.
17-10 going into Wednesday’s games against Kansas City will feel a lot different than 15-12. I know, it’s just May, but these are pretty big games for the M’s. Let’s hope we get Good Felix and Good Bedard and spend Wednesday trying to figure out which prospects we might be willing to part with this summer in order to upgrade the roster.