ARLINGTON -- It’s hard not to draw parallels between the 2001 and 2022 Mariners.
Yet above those parallels and obvious differences, there’s one thing the current squad has accomplished that not even the 2001 Mariners -- or any team in MLB history -- has done before. They’re entering the All-Star break on a 14-game winning streak.
Only three teams previously had gone into the All-Star break with an active double-digit winning streak: the 1935 Detroit Tigers (10), the 1945 Chicago Cubs (10) and the 1975 Cincinnati Reds (10), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Each of those teams went on to win the pennant that season, with the Tigers and Reds winning the World Series.
Now, of course, this isn’t to say that an American League pennant or World Series trophy is in the Mariners’ future. They currently hold a Wild Card spot, but there's still a lot of baseball to be played. Just as they jumped through the standings, they can easily fall back down.
The Mariners will have a chance to match their franchise-best 15-game winning streak when they return from the All-Star break to host the AL West-leading Astros on Friday.
“We need a break. It’s hard to say you need a break when you win 14 games in a row, but our ‘pen, you know, guys are gassed right now,” manager Scott Servais said. “Getting four days off will really help.”
Before getting ahead, here are a couple of takeaways from the first half of the season:
Julio Rodríguez is a star
This is an obvious one. He jumped from Double-A Arkansas to the Majors in less than a year. The 21-year-old outfielder has only played 91 games and he’s already tied with eight-year veteran Eugenio Suárez for the team lead with 16 home runs, and he ranks second in the AL with 21 stolen bases. He has a slash line of .275/.337/.477 in his All-Star rookie season. Servais put it best about the rookie fan favorite:
“It is Julio’s world right now, and we’re riding along with it.”
Baseball is streaky
No one knows when the Mariners’ historic win streak will come to an end, but the ups and downs are all part of the game, Servais said. Back in May, Seattle went on a six-game losing streak. It wasn’t pretty, but the Mariners weren’t panicking. With a streak in their favor now, they’re not letting it get to their heads either. After Sunday’s win, the Mariners are 22-3 in their last 25 games and 30-14 since a rough month of May in which they went 10-18.
“We are riding some kind of momentum high right now, and it’s what baseball is supposed to be. This is a stretch we’re in that I don’t think anybody will ever forget it,” Servais said. “What a way to end the first half.”
In that 25-game stretch, the Mariners’ bullpen leads the Majors in ERA (1.49), WHIP (0.90), K% (32.3), opponents batting average (.168) and WAR (1.8), backing up solid starters in the rotation like Robbie Ray, who’s posted a 2.33 ERA with 30 strikeouts and four walks in July.
“Throughout the course of any season -- you play six months -- you’re gonna have some highs, you’re gonna have some lows. Every team goes through it,” Servais said. “This is a long ways from over. This team’s got big goals, big aspirations. We want to play October baseball.”
Servais’ biggest takeaway from the first half?
“We’re pretty good.”