Don’t look now, but the Seattle Mariners (63-54) have the best record in baseball since the All-Star break. The Mariners have gone 18-10 since the Midsummer Classic, including 9-1 over their last 10 games, and now trail the Rangers (70-50) by just five-and-a-half games in the AL West and the Blue Jays (67-52) by just two games in the AL Wild Card.
“It’s crazy,” Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They didn’t really go into official sell mode at the trade deadline, but if it was one or the other, it was definitely more sell than it was buy. They got rid of Mike Montgomery, who for most of the year has been their best reliever. (They) made some other deals (but) didn’t really bring in that big, sexy name. So they made sure they weren’t mortgaging their future, but they didn’t make a big push. Somehow it’s just all come together and it’s been in this pixie dust kind of way with a hero-by-committee. Sometimes it’s guys you never heard of (like) Shawn O’Malley. Sometimes it’s Nelson Cruz, who’s obviously an All-Star. That’s been kind of the fun part about this whole thing: guys just kind of coming together. I’m not sure how long it’s going to last, but they’re keeping a few people interested in watching their games.”
Robinson Cano, who started slow in 2015 and never quite recovered, has been much better this time around. He’s hitting .291 with a .346 OBP, 26 home runs, 74 RBIs and 75 runs in 116 games this season.
“Last year was the real anomaly for him, and a lot of people associate Cano’s slow start with the Mariners’ slow start – and rightfully so,” Calkins said. “You can see on his face, you can see in his swagger a little bit too (that) last year he just wasn’t quite the same guy. I’m sure a lot of that had to do with the way he was playing. If the Mariners make a push, he’s not going to win MVP or anything like that – there are too many impressive guys in front of him – but he’s one of those guys that might end up getting votes if they do make the playoffs somehow, which would end a 14-year drought. But I think Mariners fans and the Seattle front office is happy to see their veteran pay off.”
Now if only the arms would catch up.
“The weak spot right now has been starting pitching, which usually has been one of the more reliable spots,” Calkins said. “Felix Hernandez (7-4, 3.34 ERA) hasn’t been himself for most of the year. Some speculate whether he’ll ever be the same. That velocity is dipping. Guys like Taijuan Walker have been sent down to the minor leagues. He was supposed to have a breakout year this year. So that’s still the one thing people are looking at. If they fall off the map a little bit, it’s probably because of their pitching, but so far, they’ve just been riding this magic streak. I don’t know if they can last another 45 games, but it’s been entertaining so far.”