SEATTLE — Between the warm but mild temperatures and lack of precipitation in the summer months, Seattle is a perfect setting for baseball in August.
This year, however, the Seattle Mariners will see very little of their hometown the next month.
Beginning with Monday night’s game in Texas, the Mariners will play 21 of 28 games away from home. Throw in a couple of days off and travel days the Mariners will spend roughly 3 1/2 weeks on the road during the nicest time of the year in Seattle.
It’s a brutal stretch that includes road trips of nine and 12 games that span the country and will determine if the Mariners are legitimate wild-card contenders in the American League.
“That’s baseball. It’s what we signed up for. We can’t really make out our own schedule. If we did, we’d have an off day every week, I think,” Mariners outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. “It’s a grind. You’ve got to play them. Everybody knows when the schedule gets printed out, all the games must get played. You can’t sit around and think about it. You just prepare your mind to play.”
Seattle’s brutal month begins on Monday in Texas, followed by stops in Kansas City and Oakland on the first-half of the month. The Mariners return home for seven games against the Angels and Baltimore, but then head out on a 14-day trip that eats up the rest of the month that includes stops in Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New York to face the Yankees and finally Baltimore.
The entirety of the two road trips is 21 games, with 20 of those in the month of August tying the franchise record for most road games in one month. Seattle played 20 road games in May 1977, the second month in club history, July 1979 and July 1994 when ceiling panels fell from the roof of the Kingdome and forced the Mariners to change their schedule in the strike-shortened season.
“You always want to have that advantage of playing at home as much as you can, but for some reason it worked out that way that we’re home for a week. It’s just crazy that we’re pretty much on the road for the whole month,” Seattle pitcher Yovani Gallardo said. “Once the schedule is set, there’s not much you can do about it. It’s just one of those things. At the end of the day, no matter whether it’s home or on the road, you’ve to get it done. You’ve got to win ballgames. Period. That’s what you’ve got to do.”
Seattle traditionally has the most travel of any team in baseball because of its location in the Pacific Northwest and the closest team in proximity being in the Bay Area. Throw in that the Mariners are playing the NL East during interleague this season and the travel distance was even more.
The Mariners have known this was coming since the schedule was released last year. Seattle’s hope was to take advantage of a favorable home stretch in June and July to put itself in position to where the Mariners were not trying to make up ground in the playoff race.
That didn’t go exactly as hoped. The Mariners were 19-18 from May 31 thru Sunday’s win over the New York Mets while playing 37 of 53 games during that stretch at home. That has left Seattle at 53-53 and 3 1/2 games behind Kansas City in the wild-card standings headed into the brutal month.
“We have an interesting August ahead of us,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said after Sunday’s win over the Mets. “It will be very challenging and we’ll find out a lot about our club. But, it’s good to finish up on a high note here at home.”