James Paxton improves to 6-0 in July as Mariners return to .500 by beating Mets

The Mariners wrap up a 5-5 homestand and they will start a tough stretch of their schedule that sees them on the road for most of August.

The homestand finished with the Mariners in the same place they were when it started — sitting at .500 (53-53) and close enough to the American League wild card to do something more than dream about the postseason. And just far away to wonder if it really is possible to end baseball’s longest active postseason drought.

Their last 10 games at Safeco Field provided multiple reminders of all the reasons why this team could push its way into the postseason for the first time since 2001. But it also offered examples of the frustrating stretches of bad baseball that has never allowed this team to stay above the .500 mark this season.

But will Sunday’s 9-1 win over the Mets — the best baseball the team played in the 10 games at Safeco Field — be the start of sustained success?

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Mariners @ Texas, 5:05 p.m., ROOT Sports

It won’t be easy. Seattle enters the most brutal stretch of a schedule that seems borderline unfair. Of their next 28 games, the Mariners play just seven at home (Aug. 10-16). The upcoming trip starts with a three-game series in Arlington vs. the Rangers and four key games against the Royals, who they are chasing in the wild-card standings.

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“We need to play at the top of our game and everybody has to be contributing up and down that lineup, the rotation, the bullpen,” manager Scott Servais said. “We know what’s ahead of us. We will embrace what’s ahead of us. We are not going to shy away from it. You looked at the schedule way back in January when I first got asked about it, well, it is what it is. We have an interesting August ahead of us. It will be very challenging. We’ll find out a lot about our club. But we finished up on a high note at home.”

To Nelson Cruz, it’s nothing new.

“We’ve played pretty good on the road,” Cruz said. “Hopefully, we can keep doing what we are doing. We live on the road most of the time. It’s nothing new. It’s part of who we are as a team. We travel the most and have the farthest flights of anyone. It doesn’t come easy. But we are used to it.”

Of the nine times they’ve been at .500 this season, only once have they gone over. It was a brief two-game period in late June when pushed to 39-37, only to lose nine of 11 games….

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