Mariners: Rodriguez and Haniger shine as Servais gets 500th win

The offense comes to life while George Kirby has a solid outing, as the Mariners win 6-2 in their ninth consecutive victory over the Rangers.

After more than their fair share of injuries this year, the Mariners finally got to play essentially their best lineup. The result was a convincing 6-2 win over the Rangers on Friday night.

It must have been reassuring for Mariners fans to see Julio Rodriguez return to the lineup. Together with Ty France and Mitch Haniger, the trio combined for five hits, three RBI and a walk.

Additionally, you know Seattle is in a good spot when they can have J.P. Crawford hitting ninth. On the night, Crawford had one hit and an RBI, while forcing two walks.

After struggling to produce consistency, the offense now looks capable of ably supporting the pitching. Overall, the Mariners had 11 hits on the night.

A triumphant return to the Mariners

It has been said repeatedly, that Rodriguez knows how to rise to the occasion. This proved to be the case once more, in his first game back since missing the last 11.

The 21-year-old had two hits, with his two-RBI single in the top of the fourth turning out to be the difference on the night. He has proved to be a thorn in the Rangers’ side all season, with hits in 10 of the 13 games he has faced them.

Afterwards, Rodriguez was asked how good the offense can be, now that it is back to full strength. He said:

“Really good. I feel like we’ve got enough to compete against anybody right now, that’s just the truth. I feel like we’ve got some really good players on this team. We’ve got people that just go out there every night to compete, so it feels really good to have everybody back in the lineup … It’s a really good lineup, so I was excited for this game. Excited to be back, but definitely excited to be playing with everybody (again).”

The Mitch factor

There were some questions prior to Haniger’s own return to the lineup. More specifically, certain media members wondered why he was delaying coming back to the Majors, when he had been given the all-clear.

However, often only a player themselves can know when they feel right, both physically and mentally. In this respect, the 2018 All-Star more than proved he knew what he was doing.

Since returning, Haniger has hits in all six of his games, including Friday night. Further, he now has a season-high nine-game hitting streak, dating back to before his high right ankle sprain.

Despite his three hits versus the Rangers however, the 31-year-old’s highlight of the night actually came on defense. An impressive leaping catch near the wall in right outfield in the top of the second, ultimately resulted in a double play which ended the inning.

Afterwards, the media asked Haniger about his read off the ball and tracking it down. He said:

“It was a good read. (Leody Taveras) hit it well, so I tried to (get) to the track and hopefully make a play before it hit the wall. I thought there was enough room to make the catch. I didn’t know off the bat it I was going to have to play it off the wall, but I was able to get there. I think the hit had a bit of topspin, so it gave me a chance to get there.”

Starting pitching not the best, but good enough

George Kirby was likely grateful for the play, which bailed him out. He was the first to admit afterwards that he didn’t have his best stuff versus the Rangers.

However, even an average performance for Kirby is still a decent outing for the majority of Major League starters. On the night he came just one out short of six innings, allowing seven hits and only two earned runs.

The 24-year-old also had five strikeouts, while only walking one. In fact, he has not allowed more than one walk in his first 16 career starts, to extend his Major League record.

With the pitching staff carrying the load for the majority of the season, Kirby was delighted by what transpired on Friday night. He said:

“When I woke up and saw the lineup today, I was super excited. Having Mitch back in there is huge, Julio back. The bottom of the lineup was tough for (the Rangers) tonight. We had a really good lineup, so that was good to see. We just (need to) continue to keep putting good at-bats together and keep winning.”

Once Kirby left, the bullpen did what they usually do. Matt Brash, Andres Munoz and Erik Swanson combined to pitch 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits, one walk and — most importantly — no runs, to secure the win.

Impressive milestone

Scott Servais reached a milestone on Friday night, with the win representing his 500th as a manager. For some context he is second all-time in Mariners history, behind just Lou Piniella and his 840 wins.

Of course in typical Servais fashion, he was more excited by and focused on his players. He said:

“Awesome start to the series. Obviously our lineup looks a little bit different (now) with all the guys back and you saw it tonight. The constant pressure, the good situational at-bats. We got runners out there every inning and we needed it tonight. I thought George hung in there. Maybe he wasn’t the sharpest he’s been or (had) the crispest stuff, but he made pitches and got us deep into the ballgame, and our bullpen again locks it down … the extra runs later in the game certainly helped, but a great way to start the series.”

With the win the Mariners improved to 62-52, representing the first time this season they have been 10 games above .500. They also moved up to the first wild card spot in the AL, half a game ahead of the Blue Jays.

In terms of Texas specifically, Seattle is now 12-2 against them and has beaten them nine straight games. They will play them five more times in 2022, including the two remaining games in the current series.

The Mariners will send Marco Gonzales to the mound on Saturday, with Dane Dunning starting for the Rangers. For the series finale, there will be an intriguing matchup between Logan Gilbert and Martin Perez.

What stood out for you most during the Mariners’ Friday night’s win in Texas? What is your prediction for the remaining two games in the series? Let us know in the comments section below.

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