The Seattle Mariners extended their majors-leading winning streak to 12 games on Friday night, knocking off the Texas Rangers 8-3 (box score). The Mariners are now 49-42 on the season, giving them a half-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays for the American League’s second wild card spot. (The expanded postseason means the Blue Jays would also qualify for the playoffs if they started tomorrow.)
The Mariners controlled most of Friday’s game. Seattle built a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning and later extended it to 4-0 in the fifth. The Rangers would chip away at that margin with home runs from Corey Seager (making it 4-1) and Leody Taveras (4-3) over the course of the next few innings. It wouldn’t matter. Rookie sensation Julio Rodríguez hit his first career grand slam in the eighth, putting Seattle up 8-3:
Rodríguez is the first Mariners player who is 21-years old or younger to hit a grand slam since Alex Rodriguez did it on July 6, 1996, according to the team’s communications department. Coincidentally, A-Rod’s grand slam also came against the Rangers.
The Mariners also received a quality start from reigning AL Cy Young Award recipient Robbie Ray. He delivered 6 ⅔ innings, surrendering three runs on six hits while issuing no walks and striking out 12 batters. That strikeout total matches his season-high, previously set on July 3 against the Oakland Athletics.
This stretch marks just the fourth time in franchise history the Mariners have won 10 or more consecutive games. They previously authored 10-game winning streaks during both the 1996 and 2002 seasons. Their only winning streak longer than the current one occurred during their 116-win 2001 campaign, when they reeled off a 15-game winning streak from May 23 until June 8.
The Baltimore Orioles, the other team with an active 10-plus-game winning streak, suffered their first lost in nearly two weeks on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.