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Homer-happy Mariners enjoying early results

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PEORIA, Ariz. - As the Mariners continued mashing the ball Friday to improve their Major League-leading slugging percentage and home run total in an 8-6 win against the Rangers, the obvious question is what this early offense means.

Cactus League results don't always carry over to the regular season, and certainly their seven-game win streak won't mean anything once games begin to count in April. But the Mariners are happy to be hitting the ball with authority -- with four more home runs increasing their total to 18 in eight games -- even while keeping it in perspective.

"We're still working on trying to get some timing, and the results are kind of secondary," said outfielder Jason Bay, who hit his second homer of the spring in a 2-for-2 day with a walk. "But at the same time, as a competitor, it still matters.

"You want to do well and get your work in and all these things. It's almost a little unrealistic the way it's been going, but I don't think it's by accident. I think guys are putting their time in. It's a little foolish to think it's going to happen every single game, but we'll take it while we can get it right now."

Michael Morse hit his first home run of the spring to join the hit parade and said players seem to be feeding off each other and finding comfort in the improved lineup.

"I think the atmosphere has definitely changed from the last couple years," said Morse, who played for Seattle from 2005-08. "Guys are definitely more relaxed, and when you're relaxed, your talent comes out."

The Mariners racked up 13 more hits Friday and now have 81 hits and 48 runs during their seven-game win streak.

Bay and Michael Saunders both hit opposite-field shots Friday, and Carlos Peguero drove a single the other way to left in the fifth after launching his third home run of the spring to right in the second.

"I think you just have to look at the way they're squaring up the baseball," said manager Eric Wedge. "We've got guys with the power to hit home runs, they just need to be more consistent with hitting the ball hard all over the place. What's been impressive to me as much as anything is just the way we've been driving the ball the other way.

"We've got a lot of young guys that have gained a great deal of experience the last year or two, and that's showing itself to us. And obviously, the veteran guys we brought in make a big difference, too."

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