M's in prime position to steal AL West title

Robinson Cano, Lloyd McClendon & Co. enter Monday having won 14 of their past 18 games. Brian Blanco/Getty Images

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Garrett Richards rushed to cover first base and blew out his knee. Sean Doolittle, the best reliever in the AL West, is out indefinitely with a strained intercostal muscle. John Jaso struggled with concussion symptoms in the trainer's room before Sunday's game, needing assistance, and he's headed to the disabled list. Josh Donaldson has instability but not structural damage in his knee, and the Athletics are interpreting this as good news. As in, he's only a little broken.

What all this means is that Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton should be waking up today thinking: Anything is possible in the American League West. Anything.

On July 27, the Mariners trailed AL West front-runner Oakland by 11½ games. Less than a month later, the M's are just five games behind the A's, who lost to the Angels on Sunday, and they trail the first-place Angels by six games.

The Mariners have the second-best ERA since the All-Star break with a 2.39 mark, more than a half a run better than the Angels and almost a run and a half better than the A's. Hernandez is the front-runner to win the American League Cy Young Award, Chris Young is the probably the leader for AL Comeback Player of the Year, Iwakuma continues to be the best pitcher that casual baseball fans need to know, and Paxton has rounded out the rotation this month with his work.

As for the offense, the Mariners are the highest-scoring team in the division in August, averaging almost five runs per game. Cano has a .953 OPS this month, Logan Morrison is hitting .328, and Dustin Ackley has 10 extra-base hits.

And the bullpen? The Mariners have six relievers with at least 45 appearances and ERAs below 3.00. The Angels beat Fernando Rodney and his imaginary arrow-shooting on July 20, but for Rodney, his work has been mostly bull's-eyes lately.