Mariners start second half on MLB’s longest winning streak of 2022 and with chance to make statement

LOS ANGELES – The longest winning streak in the 2022 Major League Baseball belongs to the Seattle Mariners. They won their last 14 games heading into the All-Star break and will look to make it 15 in a row on Friday night when they host the Astros.

Yes, those Mariners. 

The same Mariners who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2001. The same Mariners that lost seven of nine to fall to 10 games under .500 on June 19. Those guys. They’ve won 14 in a row but it’s part of an extended stretch where they’ve won 22 of their last 25. 

And, man, 14 in a row is ridiculous. 

“It’s really hard to win one Major League Baseball game,” first baseman Ty France said ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game. “To win this many in a row is crazy. I can’t remember any stretch where we’ve played this kind of baseball.” 

Not that he’s all that surprised. 

“I think we’re just coming out and playing the kind of baseball we’re capable of,” France continued. “We’re a really good baseball team. We go in with the expectation every night to win a baseball game. When we step out on that field we have that confidence and it’s been fun.”

“It feels really good to just keep competing and winning games. It’s been fun,” added Seattle’s rookie sensation, Julio Rodríguez.  

Speaking of fun, they are all kinds of fun to watch. It starts with the 21-year-old prodigy Rodríguez in center field, in the batter’s box, on the basepaths and in our hearts. He’s as fun a player as there is in baseball right now — something he proved in Monday night’s Home Run Derby.

“He’s one of the best players in the big leagues and he will be for a long time,” France said of his young teammate. 

Rodríguez hit the most homers in the Derby, took down two-time defending champ Pete Alonso and barely lost in the finals to Juan Soto. We shouldn’t call it a “coming out party,” because baseball fans know plenty about him by now, but it was a nice introduction to casual fans on a national stage.

So much about this team is worth knowing, too. France was initially one of the biggest All-Star snubs, but thankfully made the game as an injury replacement. He was one of the most valuable hitters in baseball through the first two months. 2021 Cy Young winner Robbie Ray heads up a sneaky-good rotation and the back-end of the bullpen is lights out. 

The M’s are now 51-42, holding down the second AL wild card and might even have an outside shot to catch the AL West-leading Astros. Those same Astros have a 10-game lead, but seven head-to-head matchups remain, starting right out of the gate in the second half. In fact, they play all seven times before the calendar turns to August. 

“They’re a really good team,” Rodríguez said. “They go out and compete, it’s gonna be a fun series.” 

Such a comeback — taking the AL West title — is very unlikely and would be historic, given that the Mariners were 13 1/2 out on July 5. The fact that we’re even discussing the Mariners in this capacity is a win for the franchise, though, and they are getting pretty familiar with winning right about now. 

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