TONIGHT: In search of first .500 season, Seattle hasn't lost sight of Twins


SEATTLE -- With the 1991 season moving into the final two months, the Seattle Mariners have a threefold project.

They have to keep sight of the other chasers in the Western Division as they jockey for position behind the leading Minnesota Twins. They also have to convince themselves they can be a factor in the race despite the fact they are still looking for their first winning season.

And, perhaps easiest of all, the Mariners have to stay focused for two more nights before starting a stretch of 20 straight games against division rivals.

Like other teams in similar positions, the Mariners are keeping an eye on the trade market, realizing past success the Oakland A's have had with late-season acquisitions. "We have a few talks going on, but I don't see anything happening," said general manager Woody Woodward. "We aren't in a position to add a large payroll player and the teams that call start out by asking about our pitching."

As they strive for their first-ever season over .500, the Mariners won't disturb a pitching staff that has the third best earned run average (3.54) in the American League. They tried to sign Mike Marshall last week, but the veteran outfielder opted for a Triple A offer from the Angels in order to stay close to home.

In the meantime, the Mariners have been beating up on the weaklings of the AL East. Having just concluded a 10-2 series victory over Cleveland, the Mariners go for the eighth win in 11 tries against the Orioles tonight (10:35, Channel 2).

Lefthander Bill Krueger (8-3, 2.76) will pitch for the Mariners. He will be opposed by righthander Roy Smith (5-2, 4.36).

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