Commentary: The month of August will prove Mariners to be contenders or pretenders

This should be the Mariners logo so far this season: Dragging that boulder all the way up the mountain, just to watch it fall back down. It could drive a fan crazy!

Thanks to today’s great win and performance by James Paxton, M’s are now back to 53-53. After all the injuries, all the adversity, the fact that Seattle is 3 ½ games out of the Wild Card race is really impressive!

But in games when they’ve had the same number of wins and losses – games meant to put them over the hump with a win, the M’s are just 1-8. Losing games at critical junctures has to end soon.

And here’s why: This next month is what I like the call “The Hunger Games” in local sports: Where the great behemoth of football begins to slowly drag some people’s attention away from mediocre teams, unless those teams give us a reason to start paying attention.

Take the Sounders last year, for example. We all considered it a lost season until they made the coaching change in late July. But they gave us a reason to keep watching, going undefeated in five straight matches, winning three of those games, proving to be the start of their run to the franchise’s first MLS Cup.

Good teams – improving teams – contending teams do not get swallowed whole in the month of August. But the ones on life support can suffer mightily because once football season really begins in September, it’s all over.

We know this because, aside from last year, we’ve seen it happen with the Mariners for more than a decade: An afterthought by the time August comes around. But this year, that’s not the case - and that’s why the next 31 days are so important.

Tomorrow, the Mariners begin a stretch of 21 of 28 games on the road. In the most critical time of the season, we need to see the killer instinct we’ve seen when their backs have been against the wall. We need to see results or they’ll fall by the wayside like so many Mariners teams have done in the past.

It’s days like today that remind me that this team has too much talent to let an opportunity pass them by. James Paxton, back to his top form. Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, producing runs like they’re paid to do. This is the time for them to put it all together, continue winning games, and making people notice.

It’s time to get that boulder to the top of the hill and fling it off a cliff. Get that stigma off their back in August – and position themselves to bring that playoff berth home come September.