Though I could only glimpse bits of the 2-0 Mariners win over the Braves on Gameday while trying to guide our future leaders to enlightenment, Hisahi Iwakuma pitched our fearless lads to their fourth straight win against no losses in June. On June 4th, 2014 it is written that the Seattle Mariners are a sweet 31-28, .525 winning percentage, and at this moment are virtually tied for second place in the AL West with Anaheim. Though they remain sixish games behind a highly talented Oakland A’s club for the division lead, they find themselves at the top of the Wild Card standings-with most of the rest of the American League snapping at their heels.
Yes, it’s just June 4th, but let’s see what that that really means. This is the Mariners record in prior June 4ths
In 2013 the M’s were an awful 26-33 and ten games behind the Oakland A’s
In 2012 the M’s were 25-32 and eight games behind the division leading Rangers
In 2011 your Seattle Mariners were a surprising 30-28, 2.5 games behind the Rangers. But because they were the Mariners they couldn’t foresee that a scant month away they would embark on a 17 game losing streak.
In 2010 the Mariners were 22-32 and seven games behind Texas.
In 2009, the last time the Mariners offered many signs of competitiveness, they were 26-28, six games off the pace behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Yes, it’s only June 4th, and we can’t become giddy with three games over .500 until August 4th, or better yet September 4th. Even so, the Mariners pitching situation has kept games close enough for their sub-par offense to battle. The team won 2-0 today, but they also came back to win 7-5 last night in Atlanta. They even pounded the Yankees in their home park 10-2. Does it prove anything? It might show that many of the long-dormant elements in the Mariners line-up are beginning to awaken with the warmer weather. Elements not named Smoak. It’s been different hitting stars each night–Kyle Seager on Sunday, Stefen Romero and John Buck, last night, Cole Freakin’ Gillespie today.
More and more I hear stories about the Mariners locker room. That this team has more team chemistry, is more like their feisty manager, Lloyd McClendon, that they fight for each other. That can only be a good thing, one of those intangibles that SABRheads don’t like to talk about.
Another area where the M’s show improvement is in the outfield. Though FanGraphs doesn’t seem to much care for James Jones, the outfield that was a hideous -58 runs allowed last year, seems to be better. Saunders is a plus outfielder in right, Gillespie and Endy Chavez are plus outfielders and Dustin Ackley is a slight minus. Romero is rated poorly in right and Jones has a UZR 150 of -10.1. They’re small sample sizes, so it will be interesting to see how things turn out. But there is a correlation to an improved outfield difference, with athletic players in their proper roles, and the improved performance of the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen.
Yes, it’s only June 4th, but the M’s are three games over .500. They’re tied for a wild card spot, and they are one of the few teams in the American League with a positive run differential. There are many reasons to be positive. But for now, just hold on tight and pray there aren’t any 17 game losing streaks hiding in the weeds.