SAN DIEGO -- When Michael Pineda became the eighth straight starter to go at least seven innings and allow two or fewer runs on Saturday night, Seattle became the first Major League team to pull off that feat since the Mariners themselves in 2003.
But no rotation has done the deed nine straight times since the San Francisco Giants from July 1-10, 1988. Felix Hernandez will attempt to put the Mariners at that plateau when he starts Sunday afternoon against the Padres.
The rotation's run has helped Seattle climb back into the American League West chase despite an offense that continues struggling to score runs on a consistent basis.
"It's been quite a stretch," manager Eric Wedge acknowledged. "Anybody that ever talks about what is the most important part of the game, it has to start with starting pitching. They're the ones that give you a chance or not. It doesn't take anything away from the bullpen or the offense or defense, but the starting pitching, they set the tone and the game goes from there."
The Mariners' rotation has remained the same throughout the season's first two months with Hernandez, rookie Michael Pineda and veterans Jason Vargas, Doug Fister and Erik Bedard combining for a 3.10 ERA in 45 games.
Wedge said he's benefited greatly from having pitching coach Carl Willis as a holdover from last year's staff, with his immediate knowledge of the pitchers that the Mariners had available. Willis and Wedge previously worked together in Cleveland.
"I've known Carl for a long time and [I've] seen him do a lot of great things with pitchers," Wedge said. "He's a great communicator. I think he's a big part of it."