ESPN’s Schoenfield on where Mariners sit: ‘The momentum is there’

Jun 17, 2024, 10:58 AM

Seattle Mariners Josh Rojas Rangers 2024...

Josh Rojas of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with third base coach Manny Acta after homering against the Rangers on Saturday. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are in a position they haven’t been in for more than two decades.

Mariners Insider: Quick hits after AL West leaders’ 6-1 homestand

With a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers this weekend, Seattle improved to 43-31 and stretched its AL West lead to 8.5 games over Texas and nine games over the Houston Astros. It marks the Mariners’ largest division lead at any point of a season since their record-setting 116-win campaign in 2001 – which was the last time they won the AL West.

Seattle’s 8.5-game division lead is also the largest in the majors right now. The Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers both lead their divisions by eight games, the St. Louis Cardinals lead the NL Central by 6.5 games, the Cleveland Guardians lead the AL Central by five games and the New York Yankees lead the AL East by 1.5 games.

On Monday, ESPN senior MLB writer David Schoenfield joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk to discuss the first-place Mariners and where they stand after their big weekend.

“Sweeping the Rangers this weekend just absolutely turned the momentum of that entire division,” Schoenfield said. “An 8.5-game lead – that’s a huge lead in baseball. Don’t write it in stone … but 8.5 in the middle of June is a big, big lead. Mariners fans should be feeling pretty good about where the team sits right now.”

The Mariners held just a three-game lead atop the AL West on May 26, but they have taken hold of the division with an MLB-best 16-5 stretch since then. According to FanGraphs, Seattle now has a 79% chance of winning the AL West crown.

The Rangers remain a threat with the slew of reinforcements they could get off the injured list. Three-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Max Scherzer is nearing a return, two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom could be back in August and All-Star third baseman Josh Jung is projected to return later this month.

But even so, Schoenfield sees the Mariners as the odds-on favorite.

“It’s pretty crazy, because even though they were hanging in there through late May, it didn’t feel all that good,” Schoenfield said. “(It) certainly didn’t feel like the direction was exactly where you’d want this team to be going as a Mariners fan, with the offense striking out and struggling to score runs. And then boom. … This stretch has really been incredible.

“The momentum is there,” he added. “The Rangers don’t look good. The Astros don’t look good. It’s their division to win. That much seems pretty clear.”

Listen to the full conversation with ESPN’s David Schoenfield at this link or in the audio player near the middle of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Five storylines as Mariners take control of AL West
• First-place M’s sweep Texas, now have MLB’s biggest division lead
Mariners reliever takes positive step in rehab process
• A top Mariners prospect out for season with torn ACL
• Former Seattle Mariners pitcher highlights unsung heroes of pitching staff

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ESPN’s Schoenfield on where Mariners sit: ‘The momentum is there’