Tommy Milone looks good in his first start in two years and Jarred Kelenic is the Mariners star with a homer in his fourth consecutive game.
With apologies for the pun, the Mariners were handed a curveball ahead of Friday’s game versus the Rockies. Marco Gonzales was unable to make his start, albeit for a positive reason.
Gonzales was placed on the paternity list, due to his wife giving birth to their second child. He is allowed to be away for up to three days, so should be available for his next start.
Mariners’ manger Scott Servais had an inkling something like this would happen. Laughing to the media, he said:
“When Marco told me what the due date was many months ago, I said that’s going to happen on the day he pitches. It’s just human nature that it’s going to work out that way.”
Of course congratulations are in order and the most important thing is that everyone is healthy. However, it did leave the matter of who would replace Gonzales on the mound.
Milone looks good on short notice
Step forward Tommy Milone, who was brought up from Triple-A where he had made one start this season. His start against the Rockies was also his first one in two years at the Major League level.
Fortunately for everyone concerned, Milone looked good on Friday night. He allowed just three hits and a couple of walks, while striking out three in 4.2 innings.
Most important of all, the 36-year-old only allowed one run before leaving the game. The M’s couldn’t have asked for much more from the veteran pitcher.
Any concern came early, with the one allowed run coming from just the second batter of the game. However, Milone was able to recover from this and never looked back.
Milone was asked about how he settled down after allowing the early home run. He said:
“That pitch specifically, was one of the only pitches I left over the middle of the plate. I felt good early on and I think I just had to tell myself don’t let that get in your head. Just kind of attack, continue to attack the strike zone. Obviously we want quality strikes, so I tried to mentally just forget about it.”
Servais was extremely happy with how Milone performed on the night. He said:
“I tip my hat to Tommy … Obviously with the situation with Marco and his family, Tommy stepping up. We’d given him a heads up a few days ago that this could happen, and of course it happens on Marco’s day to pitch. He did an awesome job. He went right after them, which is what Tommy does. He doesn’t try to overcook or overdo it, he just pitches. He goes back and forth. It was awesome to see and that’s exactly what we needed tonight.”
Kelenic hot streak continues
Despite Milone’s fine outing, what most people wanted to talk about was Jarred Kelenic. The young man continued to roll on Friday night, with another excellent offensive showing.
Kelenic had two hits on the night, include a two-run homer in the bottom of the second. The home run blast overturned the Rockies’ early 1-0 advantage and the M’s never looked back.
Of extra significance, the homer came against a left-handed pitcher. The 23-year-old usually struggles against southpaws and was 0-for-3 versus them previously in 2023.
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In this respect it speaks volumes about how far Kelenic has come. His confidence with the bat is a delight for Mariners fans to watch.
The 2018 sixth overall draft pick now has a home run in four straight games. (He also has an eight-game hitting streak.) He is the youngest Mariner to do this since a certain Ken Griffey Jr.
Even though Kelenic has taken a while to get to this point, he is cognizant of the support he has continued to receive along the way. Speaking to the media after the game, he said;
“The fans are always great. You know it’s obviously been a lot of ups and downs, but to know they’ve got my back is super rewarding. I’ll never be able to tell each and every one of them how much I appreciate it. (However), that’s the stuff that I will never forget about.”
A consummate Mariners team win
If it’s possible, the Kelenic hype train has almost … almost … pushed Julio Rodriguez out of the limelight. Not that the latter would have an issue with this, having already established himself in Seattle.
Regardless, it’s worth noting Rodriguez himself had a strong night. He recorded one hit for an RBI, a walk and a run of his own.
Ty France is another player who continues to offer a consistent bat. He had a two-run double versus Colorado, which extended his hitting streak to 11 games. (Overall, he has a hit in all but one game so far this season.)
In all, the Mariners’ five runs were enough to overcome a slight hiccup from their bullpen in the top of the sixth. Trevor Gott allowed three hits and two runs to make it 5-3, but this was as close as Colorado got.
In this respect, Servais mentioned how valuable Justin Topa and Gabe Speier have been for the bullpen. Both were able to pitch scoreless innings, before Paul Sewald came in to seal the deal.
While this was undoubtedly a team win, the conversation kept coming back around to Kelenic. Talking about his impact, Servais said:
“Jarred is super intense, and that’s Jarred. When he’s in a good spot, that’s what he’s doing and it does rub off. The excitement, the energy that he (and Rodriguez) bring, it’s fun. That’s what young players are about.”
With two consecutive wins, Seattle improve to 6-8 and it could have so easily been better. Regardless, they will now look to win — if not outright sweep — the series versus Colorado.
George Kirby and Luis Castillo are scheduled for the next two starts. Although the M’s will take nothing for granted after how the season has gone so far, at least they are in a strong position.
Are you confident Kelenic’s recent offensive success is going to be a constant, or do you still need to see more? Let us know in the comments section blow.
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