CHICAGO -- The Mariners have done some heavy lifting over the last six weeks, pulling themselves back into the .500 neighborhood with the best record (tied with Oakland) in the American League since the All-Star break.
And yes, that 25-14 run is making a difference in the feel of a young team that suddenly finds itself at least on the outskirts of the Wild Card talk at 7 1/2 games back after winning eight of nine.
"Everybody has a little hop in their step, a little fire underneath them," said right-hander Blake Beavan, who starts Saturday night against the White Sox. "The big thing everybody is saying right now is, 'Why not us?'
"We have nothing to lose," Beavan said. "Nobody talks about us. We're just going to try to keep playing good baseball like we have been and everything else kind of takes care of itself. You just keep pushing, going up that mountain. That's what we're doing and the atmosphere couldn't be any better right now in our clubhouse. This is what it's supposed to be like. This has been fun to be a part of."
First baseman Justin Smoak has felt the difference since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma eight games ago. Heading into Friday's game, the Mariners hadn't lost since his return and he acknowledged the new sense of confidence on the club.
"It's definitely a different feel. It's been good," said Smoak. "There's more of a camaraderie among guys. Everybody is pulling for each other. Everybody is doing their part, if it's bunting a guy over, taking a walk when you need to, making plays in the field -- and there have been some really good plays of late.
"It's always more fun when you win," he said. "Guys are expecting to win every time they come to the field. That's something we've got going on right now and we want to keep it going."