It all starts with the chemistry on our club. Our focus hasn't wavered. We've come together as a group, and we're playing hard for each other. We're exhausting ourselves on a daily basis to do whatever it takes to win ballgames.

Coming to Seattle for the first time, I had heard horror stories about previous seasons, but I also knew that didn't have anything to do with this year's club. We treat each other as brothers and focus on playing a full nine innings.

A big part of our chemistry took shape with our offseason additions. Guys like Ken Griffey and Mike Sweeney came here and have mixed well onto a team that already had players like Ichiro and Adrian Beltre.

Of course, it also helps to have a strong starting staff and bullpen and quality leaders on our coaching staff.

Don Wakamatsu has a strong belief system and a great philosophy. All he's asked us to do is believe. We've worked hard to this point, and we have believed. It's been nice to see the team develop, and it's been nice to play good baseball.

Playing in Seattle has been a great opportunity for me. I've been given the chance to go out and prove myself on an everyday basis. I haven't put any pressure on myself. I just try to play the way I know I can play. I'm embracing my new role and trying to enjoy the opportunity.

I've been happy with the results. I've hit for a high average, and I've hit lefties well, but that hasn't really surprised me. I've been a bench player most of my Major League career, but I always believed I could do those things. Whenever I would go to the Minors and play regularly, I always performed well.

The best part of this season's success, both as a team and as an individual, is that I've gotten to share it with so many great teammates.

Russell Branyan, who joined the Mariners as a free agent, is in his 12th big league season but only his first as an everyday player. The first baseman and designated hitter is batting .303 with a team-leading 19 home runs and 40 RBIs.