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For at least the next 20 hours or so, the Seattle Mariners will occupy a playoff spot. Do I think they're the fourth-best team in the American League? No, I don't, but as we learned from Willie Ballgame a few years ago, when you have a limited sample of data points, all kinds of crazy shit can happen. The odds of a team beating out superior competition over a window of ~50 games are much better than they are over a window of 162, so the M's have done well to put themselves in better position now than they were in on Opening Day. While sometimes it may not feel like it, winning the division isn't our only chance, and as long as we can keep pace with one of the races through the rest of the year, we could find October interesting for the first time in forever.

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Funny what can happen to one's emotions when you play a crappy team like you're supposed to play a crappy team.

Biggest Contribution: Jose Vidro, +19.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Kenji Johjima, -8.1%
Most Important At Bat: Guillen home run, +19.1%
Most Important Pitch: Millar "double", -11.6%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +3.6%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +32.9%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +13.5%

(What is this chart?)

I lied yesterday - I have somewhere to go right now, so no time for a recap. Although I don't think my brain has the capacity to summarize a game in which Vidro and Raul went deep anyway.

Felix threw a lot of fastballs today, but I wouldn't read too much into his pattern; on a humid, 101-degree evening, he was just looking to be efficient, and his fastball is how he gets so many groundballs. Check out his GB/FB ratio for the night and you'll see what I'm talking about. Four runs in six innings never looks sexy, but had it not been for another absolutely godawful Raul Ibanez misplay of a fly ball to left field it would've been two, so again, no reason to be concerned. A good start in some nightmarish conditions.

Also, I think Raul has earned a temporary reprieve from criticism of his offensive ability. I'm still not buying it as sustainable, but right now I'll take anything I can get that helps the team win games. If - if - Ibanez is finally ready to participate, his defense clearly negates whatever he contributes with the stick, so I wouldn't be entirely opposed to shifting Vidro to second base fairly often to make room for Raul at DH and Jones in left field. Not that it'll happen in light of McLaren's quotes today, but in a fantasy world where Ibanez keeps hitting and the manager understands how to evaluate the importance of outfield defense, there's your solution. Nobody likes to lose Lopez's glove at second, but as long as you start him for Felix and Batista, you should be okay in the end.

Now time to get out the door. Ho and Daniel Cabrera square off tomorrow afternoon as the M's go for the sweep. I'll tell you I've seen less favorable matchups, but I'll also tell you I'm frequently dishonest.