SEATTLE -- The calendar says it's still May, even though Saturday night was the penultimate day of the Major League Baseball season's second month.
But in the mind of the Mariners, there's no reason to think that it's anywhere near too late to accomplish their goals of getting to October and beyond. Despite falling, 4-3, to the Indians on Saturday in a game where a win would have put them over the .500 mark for the first time since they won on Opening Day, they continued to look at the positive side of things, even at 24-25.
"No, it's early," Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said when asked if the team is looking at getting over .500 as some sort of elusive numerical benchmark.
"There's a lot of baseball left to be played. I think it's more just trying to get to playing good baseball right now. We're starting to piece together our pitching, hitting and defense, and that's the main goal. Once we can piece those together, everything will take care of itself."
On Saturday night, the team got oh-so-close again.
Starter Roenis Elias battled through a stiff back and had allowed three runs after two innings, but he only surrendered one more in 5 1/3 frames.
"He actually settled down and threw the ball pretty decently for us," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He certainly gave us a chance to win the ballgame. We just couldn't get the big hit for him."
This was magnified in the bottom of the ninth, when Austin Jackson led off by beating out an infield grounder to third base that bounced high off the dirt and got the crowd of 32,287 going. Seth Smith was next and put a charge into a ball to deep right center field, but it was run down by David Murphy for the first out. Then Robinson Cano, who had homered in the third inning for the Mariners' first two runs, hit a hard grounder up the middle only to see it fielded by shortstop Jose Ramirez and turned into a game-ending double play.
"It didn't happen," McClendon said. "In the ninth inning, we hit the ball extremely hard, and it didn't happen. That's the way it goes."
But there were good signs. Cano's homer, for example.
After a Smith worked a one-out walk from Indians starter Shaun Marcum, Cano lined a ball into the right-field seats for his first homer since April 14, a span of 171 plate appearances.
"Robbie's been swinging the bat better," McClendon said. "It carried over tonight. Hopefully he's turned the page, and that's big for us. When we've got [the] 3-4-5 swinging the bats the way we're capable of swinging it, we're a different ballclub."
McClendon was also referring to the fact that third baseman and usual No. 5 hitter Kyle Seager went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.
"I felt we had opportunities tonight," McClendon said. "We just couldn't get it done. It certainly wasn't from a lack of effort."
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.