Mariners fans weren’t this optimistic about their team’s postseason hopes at the end of June.

But Friday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, as fans waited outside for a sellout game where the Mariners looked to win a franchise record-tying 15th-consecutive game, lifelong fan Kelsea Lagerwey wondered with a smile if this is the year she’ll get to dip into the “World Series bank account” that she started nine years ago. 

Linda Ball held a yellow “Believe” sign — a reference to the show “Ted Lasso” — with a Mariners logo in the corner. She bought a ticket to Friday night’s game months ago and could barely believe the Mariners’ recent run of success.

Lifelong fan Zach St. Lawrence is no longer trying to be cautious about his excitement: “They’ve been terrible forever … so I’m going to throw all my optimism toward them.”

For a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001, the longest drought in major American sports, this kind of midseason surge in fan interest is rare. The Mariners made a playoff push late in 2021. They were as good as 24 games over .500 in 2018.

But this is July, the Mariners have caused a buzz throughout the city — and the nation — after reversing their fortune during the recent spurt, fan Luis Tinoco said. Many fans said the hype around this team, at this time of year, is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. 

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“In the span of like two to three weeks, you change your whole season, and so it’s a very special moment,” Tinoco said. “You can feel it in the air. Everyone’s out here.”

“I feel like Seattle has just not had this kind of excitement about baseball for as long as I can remember, pretty much, so it’s nice to see other people coming out for baseball,” added Ally Wick, another longtime fan.

Other fans said this recent 14-game win streak has been reminiscent of the 1995 season. That year, the Mariners fell as many as 13 games behind the division-leading Angels before making a push to win the American League West for the first time. 

The excitement has been comparable, fan Lori Nightingale said. When her husband told her that there was no way the Mariners could win the division this year, she cited the 1995 team as evidence for why she always has hope. 

“It’s got that same, refuse-to-lose kind of feel to it,” fan Carrie Avery Moriarty said. “It’s very much got that feel.”

Besides Friday night’s matchup with the Astros, T-Mobile Park has sold out just one other time this season — April 15 for opening day, when the reported attendance was just over 45,000. 

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Last season, the Mariners didn’t have this kind of sellout crowd until their back-to-back-to-back sellouts in October to close the season as the playoff push lasted through the 162nd game.

“[The fans] certainly help a lot, when you’re trying to come back in a game or you’re putting a little bit more pressure on a team, the players feel it. And they should feel it,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That’s the excitement of playing in the big leagues, in front of big crowds. So our guys are fired up.”

Before Friday night’s game, three-year fan Adam Freemantle said it’s the most excited he’s ever been for a game. Like Ball, he bought tickets well before the win streak and has since watched the momentum “building and building.” 

“It’s going to be electric,” Lagerwey said, adding that she thinks Friday night’s game reminds her of the final game in 2021.

The hope for Mariners fans is that they’ll continue to stay relevant in the wild-card race. Tinoco said if the Mariners can win this series against the Astros, they’ll set themselves up well for the second half of the season.

“What it does for the mood around town is quite a bit,” Servais said of the 14-game win streak. “There’ll be a fun crowd here tonight; it’ll be exciting to play hopefully all weekend. It helps give us a little bit more momentum, but you gotta make it happen on the field, doesn’t matter how many people are in the stands.”

The way Julio Rodriguez performed in the Home Run Derby on a national stage, in addition to the win-streak, brought more attention to Seattle. Avery Moriarty feels the Mariners were solid at the start of the year, but they’ve continuously gotten better and better. The streak has only brought more hope and optimism for fans, Moriarty added, particularly because it comes with so much of the season remaining — and so much room to keep improving.

“Good for us, good for the organization and the people in town,” Servais said of the fan-hype and the streak. “The fan base has been starving for something for a long time and hopefully we can bring it to them.”