A journalism titan named Larry Stone tweeted Sunday that the Mariners were 47-19 since dropping 10 games below .500 after a mid-June series against the Angels. That was the same pace at which the Mariners won in 2001, when they tied the MLB record with 116 victories. 

Concise story even more succinct: Despite their 3-2 loss to the White Sox on Monday, the M’s have been straight fire since their season looked most dire. But how have they done it? 

Monday, I canvassed the clubhouse to see how vividly players remembered the feeling following that five-game fiasco against the Halos. Given the high expectations for the Mariners after winning 90 games last season and adding three All-Stars (Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier and Eugenio Suarez) and the reigning American League Cy Young winner (Robbie Ray) last offseason, that low point had to feel like a Louisville Slugger to the midsection.

But emotions, at least according to Mariners’ testimony, were surprisingly even-keel two and a half months ago. As for what turned the season around? Depends on who you ask. 

Suarez, the third baseman, recalls a team meeting in which the players came together to remind each other how talented they were. Yes, there was frustration, but optimism outweighed anger as various Mariners said their pieces. 

“After that meeting, we just talked about ‘have fun, enjoy the game and play hard and we’ll see what happens,'” said Suarez, whose Mariners (76-59) are tied with the Rays atop the AL wild-card standings and have a 99% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FanGraphs. “This is the same team. We just changed the mentality to play the game.” 

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So it was the meeting. The big meeting. Hey, Jesse Winker — what can you say about that meeting? 

“We have meetings every day,” the outfielder said. “I don’t even remember.” 

Fair enough. But Winker does remember that the M’s were playing respectable baseball during that late-spring downturn — they just weren’t eking out wins like they have been since. Plus, they were navigating what may have been their toughest stretch of schedule of the season. 

Distant road trips against the Blue Jays or Rays or Orioles — all of which have winning records. Two series in one fortnight against the Astros, who have the best record in the AL. And though the Angels may be struggling, they do have Mike Trout, who hit five home runs in the aforementioned five games in Seattle. 

But while Winker might not recall the meeting Suarez mentioned, he does remember the M’s beginning to celebrate their wins more fervently once veteran Carlos Santana showed up on June 27. 

Oh, and you know what happened on June 26? A bench-clearing brawl between the Angels and Mariners in Anaheim. There were eight ejections, several suspensions and ink out the wazoo for anyone covering those teams. Unlike a specific team meeting, that was a moment no Mariner will soon forget — including one Robbie Ray. 

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Ray echoed his teammates’ recollections that there was little panic after dropping to 29-39. He knew significant ground could be made up in the ensuing 94 games, and felt a breakthrough was imminent. 

But that brouhaha in Southern California?

“You never really want to get into a brawl, but it kind of brings you together as a team. When another team sparks you like that, it gets the boys going,” said Ray, whose team is 42-19 since that fracas. “If that’s the moment that we look back at at the end of the year, like that was the moment, I can definitely see that that was it.” 

Just a note: The Mariners did win five straight before that SoCal melee, which ended in a 2-1 loss. But no need to mitigate the mythology. 

The pithiest answers to my questions Monday came from Mariners reliever Paul Sewald. He said the bulk of the team remained calm last June because, well, they’d endured similar woes last season.

In May 2021, remember, the Padres swept Seattle in San Diego, winning one game 16-1 and making the M’s, as Sewald said, “look like a Double-A team.” But those Mariners, 21-26 at the time, went on to finish 90-72. 

Sewald said that he and his teammates knew this season’s squad was much more talented than last season’s. They just needed a break from East Coast travel, a breather from Trout and for key moments to swing their way. 

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The main thing, though? 

“I feel like we have a better starting pitcher than their (any opponents’) starting pitcher all five times we send out our starting pitcher. I think we have the best bullpen in baseball. … We have the best defense in baseball,” Sewald said. “We just think we’re better than anyone we play at any given moment … when you have better players than the other team, that usually helps.” 

It’s not true that the M’s have a better starter every time they take the field, but the top of their rotation is elite. As is their bullpen. As is rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez out in center field. That’s why manager Scott Servais emphasized Monday that, despite all the theories — there’s no one thing that has made the M’s surge over the past two and a half months like no other team in the American League. 

The truth is — and fans aren’t used to hearing this — the Mariners are just really good.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the Mariners tied the MLB wins record in 2001, not set it as originally reported.