A stomach bug sidelined Julio Rodríguez on Tuesday.
No matter for the Mariners. Seattle cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox for its eighth straight win. The win kept the Mariners on the right side of the wild-card standings while moving them within 1.5 games of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
This from a team that had a losing record and was largely written off as a playoff noncontender as recently as early July. But the Mariners went into the All-Star break on a 7-2 run to improve their record to 45-44. Since the break, they've gone 26-11, and they improved to 71-55 with Tuesday's win.
Their recent success has largely ridden the blistering bat of Rodríguez. The reigning Rookie of the Year fresh off his second All-Star bid in two MLB seasons has knocked the cover off the ball during a historic hitting stretch that saw him set an MLB record with 17 hits in four games while posting four or more hits in four consecutive games.
In the process, the Mariners won three straight to sweep the AL West-rival Houston Astros, whom they're challenging for a wild-card spot and the division crown. On Tuesday, they dispatched the White Sox despite their star being sidelined. He also missed Monday's win over the White Sox as a routine rest day.
Third baseman Josh Rojas led the effort Tuesday against Chicago, with a two-run home run that gave Seattle a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. Four other Mariners registered an RBI, while seven pitchers, including starter Bryan Woo, combined to limit the White Sox to three runs.
Things won't get harder in the near future for the Mariners, who have another game against a 49-76 White Sox team that just fired its front office leaders. After that, they have a pair of three-game series against the 40-87 Kansas City Royals and 35-90 Oakland A's, who own the two worst records in baseball. Seattle's winning doesn't project to end soon.
But the Mariners need to rack up wins while they're hot. Their home stretch is brutal, with series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays before they close the season with 10 straight games against the Rangers and Astros — a stretch that promises to play a significant role the wild-card and AL West races.