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Series vs. Boston good barometer for Seattle

While unable to get over .500 hump, Mariners pleased with effort vs. first-place team
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Sure, it concluded with the Mariners being shut out, 4-0, by an American League Cy Young Award candidate in Boston's Chris Sale on Wednesday. But Seattle's three-game series win over the Red Sox proved the Mariners are getting back on track.

"The goal coming in here was to win the series, and we accomplished that," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Which is great. Obviously, that's a first-place club over there. We're trying to move up the standings."

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SEATTLE -- Sure, it concluded with the Mariners being shut out, 4-0, by an American League Cy Young Award candidate in Boston's Chris Sale on Wednesday. But Seattle's three-game series win over the Red Sox proved the Mariners are getting back on track.

"The goal coming in here was to win the series, and we accomplished that," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Which is great. Obviously, that's a first-place club over there. We're trying to move up the standings."

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For a while now, surpassing the .500 mark has been a challenge for the Mariners, even when they've gotten so close. Seattle, which entered Wednesday 51-51, has boasted a winning record for only three days (June 22-June 24) this season. The club has had chances to surpass the proverbial hump twice in July, but fell short in both opportunities.

"I've heard it probably six times: 'This is the most important series of the year.' I think we just played our sixth most important series of the year against the Yankees," Servais joked.

"It happens over the course of the season. Our team this year, obviously getting out to a slow start, dealing with the injuries, it was going to be a little bit of an uphill climb. Everybody gets excited when you get to the .500 mark, as we do. You feel good about things and where you're headed. We just haven't been able to kick it in gear to get over the hump."

Lately, things are trending in the right direction.

The Mariners' post-All-Star-break record is impressive, even with Wednesday's loss. Seattle is 8-5 with three wins in its last four series. It's kept them afloat in a muddied American League Wild Card race, as the Mariners entered Wednesday night just three games behind the Royals for the second spot. It's kept them active as buyers on the market, swapping four prospects to Miami for reliever David Phelps, and top prospect Tyler O'Neill to the Cardinals for left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales.

Next up for the Mariners is a weekend Interleague series with the Mets, who've been just as hot. They entered Wednesday winners of six of their last seven.

The Mariners know winning consecutive series is the only way to not only surpass the .500 mark, but stay there.

"In order for us to get where we want to get, we have to continue to win series," pitcher James Paxton said. "That's our goal. Just to win every series we play. If we do that, we're going to be in a good spot."

Servais is confident that making a run to surpass the .500 mark and obtain an AL Wild Card spot is within the club's capabilities.

"It just hasn't been able to continue into that stretch where you look up and you've won 15 out of 18 or something like that to put you six or seven games over .500," Servais said. "I still think it's in there. It'd be crazy not to think it is. I mean, we certainly have the ability to do. Like I said, it's in there. It's coming."

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.

Seattle Mariners