The Mariners have won five games in a row and now peak just over the edge of .500 baseball. Going beyond a nearly-even record will take some deviance from the norm.
All the numbers agree, including the unforgiving, binary win-loss record, that the Mariners are a better-than .500 team. After their sweep of the Detroit Tigers last night, they have now won more games than they lost, a feat they haven’t managed all season.
As with all streaking teams, the Mariners have gotten contributions from many players, expected and unexpected. Robinson Cano smashed two home runs last night, including a grand slam–we expect nights like that from the future Hall of Famer.
We (at least, I) didn’t expect to see the level of production from Mike Zunino in recent games. Zunino now has 40 hits on the year, 19 of them for extra bases, including nine home runs. He has 30 RBIs in only 50 games and has raised his average to a shocking (for him) .247.
Andrew Moore made his Major League debut last night and held the Tigers down, helping to keep a rotation afloat that has been held together recently with duct tape and hope.
Despite all the recent winning and the rise out of the depths, the Mariners still trail the Houston Astros by 12.5 games in the standings, first runner-up in the American League West by only a half-game above the .500 squads of Texas and Anaheim.
The win streak puts the Mariners in the area where most fans thought they’d be–at worst. Most figured with the star power of Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Felix Hernandez, etc., the Mariners would be .500 at worst, and leading the division at best. But even after a four-game sweep of Detroit at home, their 365 runs scored (third in the American League) and 367 runs allowed (12th in AL) show they are right where they should be in terms of strict run differential.
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There’s hope the Mariners can keep from going back and forth under the .500 surface. Their pitching staff has suffered mightily from injuries, and even in spite of a recent injury setback for Hisashi Iwakuma, they’re getting healthier. King Felix himself returns to hold court tonight against the Mariners’ nemesis, the Astros.
Catching Houston still seems impossible now, but Seattle could start eating into the Astros’ big division lead tonight. If their pitching improves and keeps bolstering the offense, Scott Servais‘ club can be a winning team. With a tight Wild Card race appearing on the horizon, the Mariners have to continue their winning ways, and show that their nearly-even record is not indicative of the true potential of the team, but only a stepping-stone to greater things.
Now that Seattle is over the .500 mark, it’s time to prove its a real, winning team. That task starts tonight against mighty Houston.