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O’Neil: Mariners are maybe most blessed team to have ever been cursed

Mitch Haniger is one of the latest additions to the Mariners' list of players dealing with injuries. (AP)

The Mariners are the most fortunate hard-luck team I can remember.

Or maybe it’s the most blessed team to have ever been cursed.

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And if that doesn’t make sense, stop to consider the fact that the Mariners have had two All-Star second basemen go on the disabled list in a single nine-day span. Of course, they’ve also come back to win three different games in which they trailed entering the seventh inning in that same time frame.

They are 4-0 in extra-inning games this season. They’ve also watched as Nelson Cruz sprained his ankle while slipping on the dugout steps AFTER a home run and Ryon Healy suffered an injury doing a plyometric workout after a game.

To say the Mariners have been fortunate is accurate in some ways: They have scored only eight more runs than they’ve allowed this season and yet are 28-19. Compare that to the Dodgers, who have scored 13 more runs than they’ve allowed yet are 21-27.

So you can say the Mariners have been very strategic about when they’ve allowed runs, concentrating huge chunks of them in lopsided losses, but both experience and basic math tell us that kind of strategic run allowance isn’t actually a thing. More like a statistical quirk that tends to even out, and basic analysis of run differential tells us that a team with Seattle’s current run differential should be 24-22 right now, not 28-19.

But to chalk up the Mariners’ current success to luck overlooks the massive amount of misfortune that has befallen this team. Two-thirds of the Mariners’ projected opening day lineup has been on the disabled list already this season. Yep. That’s right: Six of them, and that’s not even getting into the fact that the highest-paid player is going to be absent entirely for half of the season because of a drug violation.

So far there have been two oblique injuries (Ben Gamel, Mike Zunino), the aforementioned ankle injuries, a broken big toe – oh yeah, and we’ve had three Mariner batters forced to leave a game after being hit by a pitch in the past two weeks alone.

And in spite of all that, the Mariners aren’t just surviving. They’re thriving. And they’re doing it with the help of their next generation of talent, which also happens to be cost-controlled. Just one more way that injuries that should be a curse have turned out – in some ways – to be a blessing.

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