Julio Rodriguez leads the way as the Seattle Mariners offense continues to finally show some much-needed consistency.
The main thing holding the Mariners back last year, was an inconsistent/underperforming offense. Nowhere was this more evident than the 18-inning marathon which ended their postseason, when they couldn’t even score one run.
While it’s still early in the 2023 campaign hopes are high, as the lineup is finally starting to produce on a more regular basis. Consider the recent run of form, punctuated by Saturday night’s 9-2 win over the Rockies.
The victory represented four consecutive games of the M’s scoring five+ runs, to equal last year’s season-high streak. If the offense is finally figuring it out, this represents a major problem for the rest of Major League Baseball.
The poster child for this recent improvement in consistency and production, is undoubtedly Jarred Kelenic. He entered Saturday night third in the Majors in OPS and with a home run in four consecutive games.
In the end, Kelenic did not continue his recent hot streak per se. He did however, extend his career-best hitting streak to nine games.
Rodriguez thrives on Jackie Robinson Day
It didn’t matter in the end though, as another of the Mariners’ young talents stepped up. More specifically, Julio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez will be the first to admit he hasn’t had as much of an impact as he’d like of late. He hasn’t been bad – it’s just a measure of how much more he is capable of with his talent.
In this respect, the 22-year-old chose Jackie Robinson Day to remind everyone why he’s been touted as a superstar. And it came in a fourth inning which saw the Mariners establish a commanding position they wouldn’t relinquish.
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Colorado had a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth, which Eugenio Suarez cancelled out with a solo homer. J.P. Crawford then hit an RBI single with the bases loaded, to give Seattle a slender 2-1 advantage.
This set the stage for Rodriguez, who has shown a penchant to step up in dramatic fashion. With two outs he did just this, clearing the bases with a three-run triple and providing a 5-1 lead.
The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year had another bases loaded situation in the bottom of the sixth. This time however, he ‘only’ drove in the one run on a fielder’s choice for a 6-1 advantage.
Mariners seeing the real Hernandeze
The Mariners added three more runs in the sixth, to blow the game out of reach at 9-1. The additional scoring came after Suarez was hit by a pitch, a Cal Raleigh walk and a Teoscar Hernandez single, all with the bases loaded again.
Hernandez is a player who also deserves some recognition, after overcoming some early struggles with the bat. He is on a six-game hitting streak, which has boosted his slash line from .156/.250/.375 to .250/.297/.433.
However it’s Rodriguez who deserves the main offensive headlines. Giving some insight into his focus and killer attitude, he said afterwards:
“Every time they make their mistake, we’ve got to make them pay. I feel like that’s where you’ve got to make your money. There’s a lot of good (pitchers) out there and they have a lot of good control, but they’re human too, just like we are. I feel like being ready for those mistakes is always going to lead you to better results.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais discussed Rodriguez’s ability to produce, despite opponents being aware of what he’s capable of. Speaking to the media, Servais said:
“Whenever the opposing team looks at our lineup, they’re going to take notice of a few guys and Julio is one of them, based on what he did last year and his reputation to hurt you and hit the ball out of the ballpark. So they are going to live on the edges, and you have to be disciplined and doing all that (so) when they do make a mistake, you have to be ready to hit. And Julio is always ready to hit.”
Kirby looks good again
As much as stellar pitching wasn’t necessarily needed on the night Seattle still got it, courtesy of George Kirby. After a shaky first start of the season, he’s provided two quality outings since.
On Saturday night specifically Kirby pitched 6.1 innings, giving up six hits and no walks. He allowed just two runs, while striking out three batters.
The 25-year-old was finally replaced after giving up his second run. The rested bullpen then stepped up, with Penn Murfee and Diego Castillo allowing no hits or runs in 2.2 combined innings.
Kirby was asked afterwards to assess his overall outing. He said:
“I thought it went really well. I threw inside really well, I used my slider a little bit more tonight. I had a little bit more movement, which I was happy with, but yeah, I thought it went great. I went inside all day and kept them off the heaters, and it kind of made my other stuff better.”
Servais was equally happy with Kirby’s outing. He said:
“George is throwing the ball really well and we saw it again tonight. Every time he goes out there, it’s a little bit of something different. That combination of the four-seam fastball up in the zone and running the two-seamer in, there were a number of broken bats tonight. His ball is really moving when throwing 94-95 mph like that with the kind of command he has. It’s hard to square it up.”
Overall, the 9-2 win was one of the Mariners’ most complete performances of the season. Their first three-game winning streak of 2023 also takes them to within one game of .500, at 7-8.
Looking ahead, Servais talked about continuing to improve. He said:
“It’s nice to get a series win. Hopefully we can get the sweep with (Luis) Castillo on the mound. I don’t think we’re even close to playing as good as we can yet, but you’ve got to keep finding a way to get some rhythm going.”
How much confidence do you have in the offense right now? Do you see them continuing to show more consistency with the bats moving forward? Let us know in the comments section below.