Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/24/15
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Mariners Sailing Fast After 7-2 Road Trip I think it’s safe to say that the Seattle Mariners have righted the ship.  An eight-game losing streak had a number of fans saying, “Here we go again,” but the McClendon’s crew has shown some stiff upper lip by going on a very tough road trip through New York, Houston and Oakland and coming away 7-2. That, my friends, is pretty darn good baseball. The Mariners find themselves over .500 and just 1.5 games out of first place.  Seattle hasn’t had a start this good since 2009. The Numbers  Seattle has revived its winning ways in large part thanks to some better hitting in the top two spots in the order.  In particular, Michael Saunders has been red hot since taking over as the M’s leadoff hitter. In the month of May, since taking over as the leadoff guy, Saunders is batting .297 including two doubles and with four RBIs.  Saunders has also swiped seven bags in May.  He has been the catalyst the M’s needed to get more ABs with runners in scoring position. The Mariners are currently batting .262 on the season with runners in scoring position.  That’s sixth-best in the big leagues.   If you look at RISP with two outs, the M’s are even more impressive.  They are batting .273 on the season in those situations, which is second overall in MLB. Leading that RISP attack is not who’d you’d think in Robinson Cano.  It’s Justin Smoak who’s really driving in runs with two outs.  His line with runners in scoring position and two outs is flat-out ridiculous. Michael Saunders has been red hot. Photo:Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports) Consider this: .533 average with 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 14 RBIs.   His OPS is over 1.600 in that situation. Corey Hart has done his fair share in those situations as well.  His numbers are almost as impressive: .444 average with 1 double, 1 homer and 7 RBIs.  His OPS is over 1.400 in that same situation. The Schedule If you are a believer in home-field advantage, you have to think that the remaining May schedule for the Mariners works in their favor. After the M’s finish a three-game series with the Royals and the Rays, they head on a very short road trip to Minnesota for three games and Texas for just two games.  After that it’s a very long home stand to finish out the month. The M’s home stand spans 11 games through June 1 and includes visits from the Astros, Angels and Tigers. Outside of the Tigers, these are all teams the M’s have proven they can handle this year.  Hisashi Iwakuma made lunch out of the Royals on Thursday night, throwing eight innings of shutout ball and the Rays have pitching issues thanks to injuries. On that brief road trip, the Twins won’t be a picnic, but Joe Mauer has been sitting with back problems and there is no word on when he might return.  That makes the Twins far less dangerous.  The Texas series is just 2 games and the M’s have played tough against Texas so far. On the big home stand the Astros are up first.  The Astros are a team the M’s should walk over the way they are currently playing.  The Angels then come to town and the M’s put a whoopin’ on them in Anaheim to start the year. The scary part of the schedule in May is that last series against the Tigers.  Detroit is an offensive juggernaut and the M’s hurlers will certainly have their hands full with Miguel Cabrera and company. Speaking of M’s pitching, working in their favor is news that starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are both beginning to throw bullpens.  M’s GM Jack Zduriencik stated earlier this week that he expects Walker and Paxton to both be back in action by June 1.  That would be great news headed into that series with Detroit. Fortune Teller Gazing into my crystal ball, barring an injury to key players, I foresee the M’s in first place by June 1 with a record that is eight or more games over .500. That sound you hear?  That’s the M’s fans jumping back on board.   Ahead full M’s fans! CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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