Mariners vs. Rangers: Rojas keeps rolling, Gilbert fans nine, and chaos ball reigns

The Mariners extended their lead over the AL West with a clean sweep of the defending World Series champion Rangers
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
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The Mariners have excelled against divisional opponents so far this year. Their 17-5 against fellow AL West teams which has allowed them to pull ahead to their currently dominant 8.5 game lead over the second-place Rangers. Heading into this weekend's series, there was an opportunity for Texas to close the gap but Seattle quickly closed the door on that possibility.

Things were just clicking. The starters, the bullpen, and the lineup all took care of business to outscore the Rangers 15-7 including a 5-0 shutout in the third and final game of the series. With this most recent performance, they've officially thrown their hat in the ring of serious postseason contenders.

Best Hitter: Josh Rojas

10 PA, .375/.500/.875, 3 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K

Josh Rojas has continued to be an integral piece of this well-rounded squad. After officially winning the battle for the third base role and watching Luis Urias get optioned to Triple-A, his hitting cooled off. His May OPS of .608 and June OPS of .655 have been significantly worse than the .938 OPS he posted in March/April. However, he's still had his hot moments. On Saturday night, he hit a 395-foot bomb against Jonathan Hernández to give Seattle a 5-1 lead.

With a team-leading 114 OPS+ (tied with Ty France), his excellent defense has given him 1.6 rWAR, the second-highest on the team behind just Logan Gilbert. He's currently got the highest OAA of any third basemen at six and has five DRS. After trading Eugenio Suárez, there were concerns that his successor would have inferior defense and so far, Rojas has shown that he's just as good if not better.

Honorable Mention: Julio Rodríguez

13 PA, .273/.385/.545, 3 H, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K

Julio might finally be thawing out. After going from a .606 OPS in March/April to a .688 OPS in May, he's sitting at a .816 OPS over 64 plate appearances so far in June. He cut down on the strikeouts in this series which is hopefully the start of an upward trend. His poor swing decisions and plate discipline have cut into his offensive output but when he makes contact, he's been great. Before Rojas hit his home run, Julio hit a two-run homer of his own against Nathan Eovaldi, a 412-foot moonshot.

Julio's still in the top 10% of hitters for average exit velocity, bat speed, and hard-hit rate so expect more of those long balls to come throughout the summer.