A sampling of national-media reaction to the Mariners, who remain one of MLB's biggest early-season surprises. They have climbed into first place by going 18-7 on the road thus far.

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Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reminded his team after their wild-card win over the Vikings last season you don’t win games in the first quarter (or the second or third quarters, for that matter).

About a quarter of the way into baseball season, it feels like a relevant reminder for the Mariners, who are off to a 26-17 start and are an MLB-best 18-7 on the road after finishing off a sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Nevertheless, it’s been a pleasantly surprising start for the Mariners, who are in first place in the AL West by a game-and-a-half and are on pace to win 97 games. Robinson Cano has bounced back and then some after an off year, and Felix Hernandez picked up another win on Saturday behind some impressive power hitting from Franklin Gutierrez.

Yes, Seattle’s play at home needs to be better if the Mariners expect to stick around as a contender. As our Ryan Divish pointed out in his recap of Sunday’s game, the Mariners average almost 1.5 runs less per game on offense and give up almost one more run per game at home. They get to improve upon their 8-10 record at Safeco Field starting Monday night with the opener of an eight-game homestand.

The Mariners’ staying power thus far has also caught the attention of the national media. Below is a sampling of what they’ve been saying in the last few days:

FiveThirtyEight.com‘s MLB predictions page is currently giving the Mariners a 67 percent chance to make the playoffs, a 52 percent chance to win the division and a seven percent chance to win the World Series. All are the best odds of any AL West team. They also have them projected to win 90 games.

Jim Caple of ESPN.com caught up with Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez and discussed his impact on the team:

“Edgar Martinez has always been as much a part of Safeco Field as the retractable roof. Fans enter the main gates off Edgar Martinez Drive. They enjoy games while eating in Edgar’s Cantina beyond left field. And they cheer whenever his 1995 division series-winning double is replayed on the video board. More important, Martinez has played a key role in giving Mariners something else to applaud: Seattle’s offensive improvement. The Mariners averaged 3.38 runs per game last season before Martinez took over as hitting coach June 20. After that, they averaged 4.53 runs the rest of the season. After finishing 12th or lower in the American League in runs scored the past eight seasons, Seattle is currently seventh in the AL. The Mariners are third in home runs and fourth in OPS.”

Jayson Stark, also of ESPN.com, put Robinson Cano as one his early-season award winners:

“Unless you count four-way ties in strike years, no second baseman has ever led the American League in home runs. Only two second basemen since 1900 have ever led the National League in home runs for that matter. One was Rogers Hornsby. The other was Ryne Sandberg. But guess who is tied for the AL lead in homers? That would be Robbie Cano. Who still plays second base. I don’t like his odds of holding on. But what the heck. Can’t waste these great tidbits.”

Sports Illustrated’s Cliff Corcoran listed the Mariners as one of his overachieving teams of the first quarter of the season:

“New general manager Jerry Dipoto completely overhauled Seattle’s roster over the offseason, placing an overdue emphasis on balance and fielding. Leonys Martin has been a particularly successful addition in centerfield, playing spectacular defense and experiencing a rebound at the plate thanks to an unexpected power surge. Add in the elite talent left over from last year’s roster (specifically Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker) and it’s easy to see why the Mariners have become the pennant contender many thought they were going to be a year ago.”

Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com had the Mariners fifth in his MLB power rankings posted last Wednesday:

“Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager combined for 10 RBI on Tuesday night and have 86 between them this season. If the Mariners hang in the race, it’s easy to see this trio being ridiculously popular in the Pacific Northwest.”

MLB.com’s Alyson Footer put the Mariners sixth in her weekly MLB power rankings, adding they’re primed to make a move:

“The Cubs and Nationals, while not quite reaching in May the almost superhuman levels earned from their April performances, are still, by our calculations, the best of the best. Threats are coming, however — keep an eye on the streaking Giants and two more early-season pleasant surprises — the Chris Sale-led White Sox, and a Mariners team that is 21-9 in its last 30 games.”

In other MLB power rankings posted this past week, USA Today has the Mariners fifth (“After a .182 start (13 for 77), Leonys Martin on 20 for 58 (.345) streak.”), The Buffalo News placed them eighth (“Cano quickly transitioning from free-agent flop to MVP candidate.”) and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has Seattle fourth in the American League (Benoit adds depth to bullpen.).