The Seattle Mariners, ESPN.com's consensus pick for last place in the AL West, are just two games out of first place entering the second half and sit at 14 games over .500. They're on pace to win 94 games, a total the M's have exceeded just once in their 30-year history. So what gives?
The pitching staff
The Mariners' bullpen has been outstanding this year, posting the second-best ERA in the American League, thanks to an incredible record of keeping the ball in the park. Despite throwing 270 innings, fourth-most of any AL bullpen, Seattle relievers have allowed a league-low 14 homers. That has made up for the bullpen's high total of free passes, particularly rookie Brandon Morrow, who is used in set-up situations even though he's walking more than a man an inning.