Forty-six games into the season, they have to like the answer.
The Mariners' starting pitching, particularly lately, has been stupendous.
Hernandez threw eight innings and gave up one run in a 6-1 win over the Padres that gave the Mariners a weekend sweep of San Diego in Seattle's first interleague series of the season.
That performance gave the Mariners nine consecutive games in which starting pitchers threw at least seven innings and allowed two runs or less, the first time the club has done that since a stretch of 11 such games June 11-21, 2003.
Through the nine games, the Mariners starters have allowed only six earned runs in 70 innings (0.77 ERA).
Jason Vargas (16 innings) and Michael Pineda (14 innings) both have thrown shutout ball in their last two starts. Erik Bedard was rained out of one start but threw eight scoreless innings in another. Hernandez and Doug Fister allowed three runs each, both men spreading those runs out over 16 innings.
The Mariners head into the final days of May with an American League-best 2.47 ERA for the month, a mark that is more than 1.50 points under the April team ERA of a respectable 3.95, the eighth-best April ERA in the AL for that month.
As a result, the Mariners have won five in a row and six of seven to scratch their way back into contention, entering this week 1-1/2 games behind first-place Texas. In exactly four weeks, the Mariners have come from seven games out of first to right on the heels of the Rangers, A's and Angels although Seattle is still under .500 at 22-24.
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