Table Setter: The first-place Mariners didn’t come out of nowhere

Jun 3, 2018, 10:57 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2018, 7:28 am

Dee Gordon, Guillermo Heredia and the Mariners have taken first place in the AL West. (AP)...

Dee Gordon, Guillermo Heredia and the Mariners have taken first place in the AL West. (AP)


The Seattle Mariners have won 13 of their last 16 ball games, making them 37-22 on the year. The Houston Astros have lost six of their last nine, and are now 37-24.

Due to math, the Mariners now hold sole possession of first place in the American League West.

How Mariners plan to use Elias, replace Rzepczynski

Along the way to moving into the division lead this weekend, the Mariners saw perhaps the arrival of a revived Félix Hernández, another impressive showing by Marco Gonzales and the fourth seven-inning outing of the year for Mike Leake. The three wins also featured a couple more perfect innings by new setup man Alex Colomé and another pair of comeback victories, including the sixth extra-innings win in six chances.

Let’s dig a little deeper in this week’s Table Setter.

All according to plan

It’s Monday, June 3, which means you’re probably about to read and hear a lot of things proclaiming that the Seattle Mariners “came out of nowhere” to take first place from the Houston Astros over the weekend.

Don’t believe them.

This is the team general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais have been angling towards for at least two years. The Mariners’ run through May – most of which was played without Robinson Canó – may have been unlikely, but the manner in which they’ve been winning fits the blueprint.

A starting rotation that can get the game to the seventh inning more often than not. A top-of-the-line bullpen with impact at the back end. An offense with some pop, the ability to put together a rally when you need it and always ready to make opponents uncomfortable with its athleticism.

And how about some emotion, to boot?

Believe it or not, last year’s Mariners had a chance to do something like this, too. After all, they were expected to contend for a playoff spot and remained on the outer edge of the postseason race for almost the entire year. The difference is that these Mariners got the ever-important strong start out of the gate in 2018, so when the injuries and bad news have come, they’ve been able to feed off the adversity instead of trying to fend it off.

That’s how the Mariners were able to overtake first place in the division when the Astros dropped six of nine. That’s not coming out of nowhere – that’s being right where you need to be.

All-Star Game voting guide: The 6 Mariners in the running

The incline starts

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Mariners’ 13-3 run came at a time when they mostly playing sub-par teams.

They swept the Rays, who fell below .500 after sending Colomé and Denard Span to Seattle the week before. They split a four-game set with Texas, who are in the cellar in the AL West. Minnesota, which Seattle took three straight from, are 25-30. The M’s took two of three from the A’s, who despite being 31-29 are still fourth in the AL West. And before that it was Detroit, owners of a 28-31 record, that the Mariners beat in a four-game series.

Oh yeah, all but three of those games were played at Safeco Field, too.

The month of June is much less friendly to the M’s.

Of the next 23 games, 16 will be played on the road. That stretch opens with two games in Houston (starting Tuesday), then features four in Tampa, a tough seven-game homestand against the Angels and MLB-leading Red Sox, and wraps up with a 10-game road trip against the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles.

Good luck with that.

I know optimism isn’t an inherent quality in Mariners fans, but hopefully this can help put you at ease: The Mariners are currently 15 games over .500, and even if they only win 10 games over the upcoming 23-game stretch they will still be 12 games over.

Kyle Seager is playing Gold Glove defense

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m just acknowledging the fact that he’s making everybody say “wow” about two times per game with his glove and/or arm, and I have a hard time believing he’s ever been such a vacuum cleaner at the hot corner – yes, even when he won a Gold Glove in 2014.

Also, I just wanted to include the video of this play he made in the ninth inning Saturday night.

Seager would certainly like to his see batting average well above its current .223 mark, but his nine homers and 33 RBIs make that a little easier to digest. And when you factor in how he’s been able to make what look like sure hits into routine outs with his glove at third, he’s been more than doing his part this year for the Mariners.

Mariners ‘trying to prepare ourselves for anything’ with MLB Draft

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Sunny
High 83° | Low 58°
Roof is open
Astros at Mariners today at 7:10pm

Brent Stecker

Seattle Mariners Andrés Muñoz...

Brent Stecker

Mariners have a glaring All-Star snub due to MLB’s Yankees pick

The Seattle Mariners have just one All-Star, even though Andrés Muñoz is clearly more deserving of a Yankees reliever who was picked instead.

11 days ago

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

Brent Stecker

How much did bumpy road trip hurt first-place Mariners?

The Seattle Mariners struggled over a nine-game road trip that resulted in their AL West lead being cut in half. So where do they stand now?

23 days ago

Seattle Mariners Dylan Moore...

Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: Where things stand after series loss in Cleveland

The Seattle Mariners dropped two of three to Cleveland in a battle of first-place teams. Where do they stand now? A detailed look here.

29 days ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez J.P. Crawford...

Brent Stecker

3 bold predictions for AL West-leading Mariners: Trades, All-Stars and more

What's next for the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners? Potentially even more big things if any of these three bold predictions comes true.

1 month ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Brent Stecker

Can you believe in first-place Mariners? 3 stats that say you can

The Seattle Mariners are first in the AL West, but their record is the least impressive of MLB's six division leaders. Is this sustainable? Three stats may convince you.

1 month ago

Seattle Mariners Mitch Garver...

Brent Stecker

3 big questions after Mariners split their opening series

The Seattle Mariners are 2-2 after their first series of the season, and three questions stand out after they split with the Red Sox.

4 months ago

Table Setter: The first-place Mariners didn’t come out of nowhere