SEATTLE -- The Mariners were a trendy pick to click in the 2015 season, with many prognosticators pegging them for the American League West title … and beyond.
This potential glory remains possible, but prior to Friday's series opener against the Rangers at Safeco Field, the Mariners were at 3-6, had lost three games in a row, and had already been in three one-run games (they're 1-2 in those), three extra-inning games (they're 2-1 in those), two two-run games (0-2) and two three-run games (1-1). All three of their opponents before Friday, the Angels, A's and Dodgers, made the postseason last year.
Manager Lloyd McClendon was asked on Friday afternoon if he thought all these close games against tough teams would help prepare his club for what is expected to be a banner year.
"I think it does," McClendon said. "Like I told the guys the other day, and this is real important: Everybody's giving the American League title, the pennant, to the Seattle Mariners, and we're going to hoist the trophy, we're going to the World Series. And yeah, that's great.
"But in between, there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears, some heartaches, some adversity that you've got to go through, and you've got to be built for it. And you've got to handle it. And if you're lucky, in the end you'll be able to hoist that trophy.
"But to think that it's going to be a fairy-tale season and everything's going to be fine and you're not going to have three- or four-game losing streaks, come on. That's ridiculous. And to think that the world's coming to an end because you're 3-6, that's also ridiculous."
McClendon said he has unwavering faith in the character, makeup and talent of his roster.
"This is a real good team and they're built for it," McClendon said. "Trust me when I tell you they're built for it. … We'll win our share of games. So to answer your question, yeah, with close games, they help. They build that character."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.