JIM MOORE

Mariners proving they have what it takes to stay in the race all season

May 19, 2016, 10:29 AM | Updated: 1:50 pm

I sat at a Renton Highlands Starbucks drinking an overpriced triple-tall Americano this morning, while the Mariners were on their way to defeating the Orioles 7-2 to clinch yet another series win.

Maybe you already have a couple of questions that have nothing to do with the Mariners:

• Why would I even go to a Starbucks when Howard Schultz allowed the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City? I should boycott Starbucks like other loyal Sonics’ fans. I get your point, but I don’t see how personally boycotting Starbucks is going to have any kind of impact on Schultz or somehow bring the Sonics’ back. If there were more Tully’s in my neighborhood, I’d go there instead.

• If I’m saying the Americanos are overpriced, why would I buy one? No good answer to that question. Now here’s a question for you: The triple-tall Americano, with tax, came to $3.01. I didn’t have any change, so I gave the girl $4 and got 99 cents back. Don’t you think they could spare the penny and give me a dollar bill back? Didn’t get that one, nor do I understand why I went off on a tangent that has nothing to do with this post, which I guess is appropriate for a tri-host on Misfit Radio, where nothing ever makes sense, and neither does this:

For the first time in maybe forever, I’m not concerned about occasional losses by the Mariners, like the one Wednesday night when the Orioles beat Scott Servais’ team 5-2.

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You might say: “Wait a minute, they’ve lost four of five, the bullpen imploded last weekend when they were swept by the Angels, there’s no way they’ll stay on top of the AL West.”

Perhaps you’re right. They might have too many flaws to win the AL West. But they at least look like they’ll be playoff contenders all year, which is what I care about most.

It’s fun to check the scores from other games in the middle of May, hoping every other team in the AL West loses. I went to bed Wednesday night disappointed that the Rangers rallied with two outs in the top of the ninth to take a 5-4 lead over the A’s.

When I woke up and found out that Khris Davis gave the A’s an 8-5 win with a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, it made my morning a little brighter.

I was encouraged by Rougned Odor’s suspension, hoping the Rangers will be negatively impacted by the loss of their second baseman for eight games. I hear reports that Yu Darvish is scheduled to return to the Rangers’ rotation later this month and hope that he’ll suffer some kind of minor setback that pushes his 2016 debut into June or even July.

The only thing that losing four of five did to discourage me was seeing the other AL teams get closer to the top of the division. I’m guessing most of us will worry about the Astros all year until they’re mathematically eliminated. They were most experts’ pick to win the AL West but are currently in the cellar. But look out, they’re only 6 1/2 games back.

The injury-wracked Angels are only five behind the Mariners, and the A’s, behind Davis’ bat, have won four in a row and are only 4 1/2 back.

Usually on May 19, we’re trying to figure out how the Mariners can get back to .500 while watching them slide out of the AL West race.

They’ve got too much pitching and ways to score to count them out this year. It’s a winning combination, and even when they lose, the pitching is good enough and the threat to come from behind is always there.

Entering Thursday, the Mariners were second in the American League in ERA (3.31) and WHIP (1.19). They were fifth in hitting at .246 and have clobbered 53 home runs, a pace of 213 for the season.

The best part, and you’ve seen it – the Mariners can score with walks, groundouts, sacrifice flies and singles too. And when they hit home runs, they’re less likely to be solo shots this year.

The Mariners have not had a player with 100 or more RBIs in eight years, and this year they have three – Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager – who are on a pace for the century mark. Raul Ibanez was the last Mariner to do it, with 110 in 2008.

The bullpen will no doubt be my biggest concern the rest of the year. I don’t doubt Steve Cishek as much as Joel Peralta, who will hopefully get back on track now that Joaquin Benoit has returned. Why that would make a difference, I don’t know, but it’s just wishful thinking that Peralta will be better as the setup guy to the setup guy. A bigger, more realistic part of me doesn’t think Peralta will be on this team at the end of the year.

The good news, as you know, is the bullpen has help on the way. Charlie Furbush and Tony Zych should return sometime next month, but to be honest, I’ll believe it when I see it with Furbush.

At least with the Mariners, one-fourth of the way through the year, I’ve seen enough to expect their winning ways to continue.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com, KitsapSun.com and jimmooregocougs.com. You can reach Jim at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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