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9/5: Open Game Thread

First Pitch: 4:05pm PDT


Ichiro CF Damon LF Vidro DH Cabrera CF Guillen RF Jeter "SS" Ibanez "LF" Rodriguez DH Beltre 3B Cano 2B Broussard 1B Duncan Troll Johjima C Giambi 1B Lopez 2B Betemit 3B Betancourt SS Molina C ---------- ----------

Washburn (9-12, 4.37)       Hughes (2-3, 5.65)

I'm posting this early because, once again, we're facing the most important game of the season.

It's not really a must-win; even if the Mariners lose, they'll still have more than three weeks to pick up three games on New York. But really, there comes a point at which your chances of making the playoffs are so slim that it's hard to keep hope alive, and that's the point we're approaching today. Lose this game and our odds of taking the Wild Card drop below 10%, taking us from a contender to a long shot. For the sake of comparison, our chances would be similar to those of Colorado winning the NL West. We'd still be playing meaningful baseball, but there are few things more demoralizing than trying to play catch-up at the last minute against a better team with a cupcake schedule. The margin for error essentially becomes zero for the rest of the season, and this isn't a team that's shown the ability to consistently play at a high level for more than a week or two at a time. Put simply, it would not be a favorable position.

And so our hopes rest on the delicate shoulders of one Jarrod Washburn, a guy whose mincing fastball and homer-proneness make for an uncomfortable matchup at the best of times. Not that Phil Hughes has been anything special since coming off the DL, but at least when Hughes sucks he still strikes people out. Jarrod, not so much. Against the best lineup that baseball's seen in years, Washburn's going to need good defense, better luck, and great run support. This is it. Pray for Mojo.