SEATTLE -- Josh Kinney can call himself a World Champion after pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. The Mariners reliever calls that postseason run a "ride of a lifetime."

Thanks to Felix Hernandez's perfect game on Wednesday, that feeling is coming back.

Sitting in the bullpen, watching Hernandez mow down the Rays lineup, Kinney couldn't help but sense the same feelings he experienced during the World Series run.

"Like, 'WOW' ... I remember this. I remember feeling like we all had chills," Kinney explained. "Shawn Kelley was sitting next to me and we both, our arms were goose-bumped up, and he said, 'Man, I don't feel like this when I pitch.' And I said, 'I don't either.'

"[The World Series] was the memory that came to mind. I was like, 'Man, I remember how this feels.' It's that same type of feeling I got watching Felix do that. It was just unbelievable."

Kinney believes the team has been on the right path for a while, but a momentous occasion like the perfect game can act as a springboard.

"Get that feeling of how much fun it is to come to the park and winning games, and nobody's thinking about anything, we're in there having fun," Kinney said. "That's how I know a winning team, how it happens. You come to the park, you're looking forward to getting here. You expect to go out there and you got a pretty good chance. It makes it really fun. When it's happening, nobody really thinks about anything. That's how it gets started.

"You can see that with us. We had a rough road trip this last road trip, but that's over with, we're home, we're off to a good start. [The perfect game] was crazy and I think it's the best thing that can happen to this club."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge has seen the Mariners come together, and it's starting to show up on the field. After a rough road trip that the Mariners were able to close with a pair of wins in Anaheim, they have returned home to win three of four entering Saturday's contest with the Twins.

Since the All-Star break, the Mariners are 20-13, tied for second-best in the American League.

"Every day we're working to get better, I think that these guys have really gelled together nicely, they're being good teammates with each other and they're getting better," Wedge said.

"Since I've been here, it's felt different. It really has since the All-Star break," said Kinney, who was recalled from Triple-A on July 1. "We kind of started winning and guys like, 'We can do this.'

"Now, a loss kind of stings a little bit, which it should. That makes a win that much more sweet. You see it here. I'm seeing it. To me, I feel like I'm on a winning team, I really do."

Gutierrez begins rehab assignment at Triple-A

SEATTLE -- A frustrating season of injuries for Franklin Gutierrez is hopefully taking a step in the right direction, as the outfielder started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday.

Out for over seven weeks with a concussion, Gutierrez is expected to play five innings in the field for Tacoma. Depending on how he feels, the plan is for him to take a day off or be in the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday.

Gutierrez has had several setbacks since first suffering the concussion on June 28, but a recent change in medications has apparently helped curb recurring headaches.

The prolonged effects from the concussion, plus a bout with plantar fasciitis, have limited the former Gold Glover to just 13 games this season.

"I'm not going to put a timeline on it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We're just going to take it day-by-day and see how he goes."

'95 hero Wolcott throws out first pitch

SEATTLE -- In conjunction with the Mariners' year-long celebration of the club's 35th anniversary, former pitcher Bob Wolcott threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday.

Wolcott, who pitched for the Mariners from 1995-97, found himself in the spotlight as a rookie during the team's magical playoff run in 1995. Saturday marked the 17th anniversary of his Major League debut.

"It's cool. I think it's great that they remembered me for my little contribution, I guess," Wolcott said.

Mariners fans may best remember him for starting Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against a stacked Indians team. Wolcott loaded the bases in the first inning, but escaped the inning without any harm done and went on to win the game.

Worth noting

• The Mariners (+36) lead the Majors in best run differential since the All-Star break.

• Wedge said he sees improvement from last year at the plate from late July call-up Trayvon Robinson.

"He's seeing the ball better at home plate, no doubt about it," Wedge said. "He's staying in his swing longer, he's not getting all dragged out up there. So he's staying together with his swing, and it's helped him make better contact, fighting through ABs better."

• The Mariners entered Saturday's contest having won 10 of their last 11 games at home, and are now 28-30 at Safeco Field.