"If I was playing on the other side, I would try to get my hits before the eighth or ninth inning," Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano said.
With its stellar run of relief appearances against AL opponents Detroit and Oakland, the Mariners bullpen cemented its status as MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2016 season, MLB.com is honoring the "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford." An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Mariners relief unit totaled 120 points last week as the only team to reach triple digits. It did so by limiting opponents to two runs, 12 hits and one walk through 23 2/3 innings, totaling 21 strikeouts and converting all three save opportunities.
"The 'pen's been great," Mariners catcher Mike Zunino said. "I think everyone's settled in. I think their roles are settling in for everybody and they're buying into it. Just to be so consistent from top to bottom there has been great."
Like any great bullpen, the Mariners relievers demonstrated an ability to withstand adversity and succeed despite unexpected circumstances.
The unexpected: Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc exited after just five innings Tuesday against the Tigers with his team down three runs, and the game extended to a season-high 15 frames.
How they prevailed: Seattle relievers combined for nine scoreless innings as the Mariners tied the game in the eighth inning, then walked off in the 15th. Left-hander Ariel Miranda gave up a solo homer in the top of the 15th, but picked up the win, the first of his career.
The Indians were a distant second in BRS score, totaling 92.5 points as they won five of six games against the Nationals and Angels last week. The Tribe welcomed back right-handed reliever Jeff Manship, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday. Cleveland's bullpen remains in flux with new acquisition Andrew Miller joining the fold and no designated closer.
"It will still sort itself out a little bit," Miller said. "I think we're trying to figure out how to use guys. For me, flexibility is something that I think is a positive I can offer."