The main concern: What has happened to the Seattle Mariners?
The bullpen has gone south. The bats have cooled. The mojo has started to fade.
What the Mariners needed Wednesday, an easy victory, they got. Behind the strong pitching of starter Joel Pineiro and the team's ability to crush left-handed pitching, Seattle cruised to a 13-0 win at Network Associates Stadium.
For a day, at least, the M's silenced their critics; the bullpen concerns were quieted, the need to acquire another slugger was nothing more than wishful thinking, the questioning of Bob Melvin's managerial skills a moot point.
Pineiro (9-5) pitched eight shutout innings, striking out six along the way, to earn the victory. He limited Oakland 47-36) to only three hits.
Julio Mateo came on to pitch a perfect ninth inning, needing only 11 pitches to do so.
Seattle moved ahead of Oakland by seven games in the American League West.
As well as Pineiro pitched, it were the hitters in the Seattle (53-29) lineup that stole that show, pounding Oakland starter Ted Lilly.
Lilly, a 27-year-old left-hander who came over from the New York Yankees over the summer, surrendered 10 hits and five earned runs in just 4.2 innings.
Former Mariner John Halama, another southpaw, came on in relieve but faired the same. He gave up four runs and six hits in 2.2 innings.
Mike Neu, a right-handed, tried to come in and clean up the mess the first two Oakland pitchers had created. He failed, allowing four more runs to cross the plate in 1.2 innings.
Every Mariner in the lineup recorded at least one hit on a day when the team pounded out 20 in all. Dan Wilson led the way with a 4-5 day from the plate. Edgar Martinez, who smacked his 16th homer of the year off of Halama, went 3-6, as did Mike Cameron.
Lilly took the loss, dropping to 5-7 on the year.
Seattle got to Lilly right out of the gates, scoring twice in the first inning on a RBI double by Boone and a run-scoring single by Cameron.
They made it 3-0 in the second when Boone delivered again, this time with a single to left field that scored Wilson.
Seattle added a two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, three in the eighth and four more to cap the scoring in the ninth.