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Streaky Mariners zigging in the right direction

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- More often than not this year, it seems the Mariners are riding some kind of streak. When they've come across the Rays, they've been at their hottest.

With a 7-6 win Saturday, the Mariners beat the Rays for the fifth time in five games. They handled Tampa Bay, 7-1, on Friday and outscored the Rays 28-7 in a three-game sweep in June, never scoring fewer than seven runs. On Sunday, Seattle goes for its first season sweep of an opponent in franchise history (with a minimum of five games).

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ST. PETERSBURG -- More often than not this year, it seems the Mariners are riding some kind of streak. When they've come across the Rays, they've been at their hottest.

With a 7-6 win Saturday, the Mariners beat the Rays for the fifth time in five games. They handled Tampa Bay, 7-1, on Friday and outscored the Rays 28-7 in a three-game sweep in June, never scoring fewer than seven runs. On Sunday, Seattle goes for its first season sweep of an opponent in franchise history (with a minimum of five games).

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Saturday's win was also the Mariners' fourth in a row, which comes on the heels of a five-game losing skid. The contrast might seem stark to many teams, but not this one. Eight times Seattle has built a streak of at least four victories, and five times it's suffered through four or more straight defeats.

"That'd be the 2017 Mariners," manager Scott Servais said. "If you've been with us all year, you've kind of seen it. We go in ebbs and flows of really, really good, and then not so good."

Added catcher Mike Zunino: "It's a coin flip sometimes."

Video: SEA@TB: Haniger belts his first career grand slam

Zunino hypothesized that injuries have played a part in the streak-and-skid nature of the team. The Mariners, rather infamously, are up to 37 pitchers and counting this year, the most in the Majors. The team's strength lies in its bats, and offense can at times be fickle at this level.

"It's one of those things, where we have games where can swing the bat really well," Zunino said. "And when we don't, we have to rely on our pitching, and maybe sometimes that leads to some streakiness."

Fans are forced to ride a roller coaster as the Mariners fluctuate in the standings. Competing with half the American League for a Wild Card spot, there are weeks in which the Mariners can appear to be fading, and others in which they propel themselves right back into the thick of the race. Riding their latest streak, the Mariners are a half-game back of the second Wild Card spot.

"It's happened to every team this year," Servais said. "I think every team in that Wild Card hunt right now has had its hot streaks and its cold streaks. We're no different than anybody else. Hopefully we can ride this hot streak a little bit longer."

For Seattle to keep winning and separate from the pack, the offense needs to keep up its recent production. And with so many starting pitchers out with injuries, the bullpen has to stand strong when it is tasked with some difficult assignments.

"There's a lot of teams. It'll come down to who can put a good streak together," Servais said of the race. "I think for us, our offense is going to have to [carry] us. And if our bullpen continues to throw well, we'll be right in the thick of it."

Video: SEA@TB: Diaz retires Dickerson to earn the save

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg who covered the Mariners on Saturday.

Seattle Mariners