The Mariners had plenty of reason for hope looking forward after going 15-11 in July and following it up with a 15-12 August that had Seattle among the winningest second-half clubs in baseball.
Much of that positive momentum seems to have evaporated in September, however, with the Mariners having fallen into some of the same patterns of April through June.
Seattle is coming off getting swept at home against one contender, the Baltimore Orioles, and it faces another, the Texas Rangers, this weekend. The Mariners are 6-11 this month. They are 70-80 this season, and the hopes the club had for a strong finish that would get them to .500 have evaporated.
Part of the problem is that the Mariners' competition is much better this month than it was in July and August. The club's final six series and seven of the final eight are against teams in the hunt for a playoff berth, and those opponents are putting a serious hurt on a Seattle team that just three weeks ago was thinking it could be competitive at that level.
It's been hard to keep the same positive feeling going forward.
"We're just trying to finish strong. We've played together, and we need to stay together," reliever Josh Kinney said after Wednesday's 11-inning, 3-1 loss to the Orioles. A day earlier, Baltimore emerged with a 4-2 win in 18 innings at Safeco Field.
Twenty-nine innings with just three runs scored and a streak of 0-for-21 with men in scoring position doesn't engender much confidence.
"It's two games. It's baseball. It's what happens," Kinney said. "We've played good, but we've been playing against good teams, and we have to remember that. We've got to keep pushing forward."