Mariners Notes: Offense stumbles with Suarez, J-Rod sidelined

title=Сіэтл

Seattle Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez, right, can’t reach a double hit by Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani as left fielder Jesse Winker watches the first pitch of a baseball game, Friday, 16 September 2022 Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

AP

What started as a routine ground ball from Angels shortstop Luis Rengief on Friday night quickly turned into misery for Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez, Seattle’s hottest hitter amid the postseason push.

Suarez routinely picked off the ball, throwing across the diamond to throw out the pinch-running Rengief at first to end starter Robbie Ray’s clean fifth inning. But the thrower deflected Suarez’s index finger first, “splitting” the bone, later tests revealed.

He stayed in the game to bat in the fifth, but lasted just one swing, a fly out to right. Suarez visibly grimaced as he threw the bat away in frustration.

“I think the swelling is (not) allowing me to hit or grip the bat 100 percent,” he said. “I took my first swing, it really bothered me. … That’s why I left the game.”

Suarez was uncomfortable but upbeat in the Seattle clubhouse after the 8-7 loss. “We will have more information tomorrow,” he told reporters. Further testing on Saturday morning revealed a slight fracture after X-rays were inconclusive.

Then came the lineup change: Seattle placed Suarez on the 10-day disabled list with a broken right index finger, bringing back the rehabbing Dylan Moore (right oblique) from Triple-A Tacoma to take the active roster spot.

“It’s definitely a concern,” manager Scott Cerve said. “Geno has been so big for us on both sides of the ball.

“He was wonderful. He’s been playing all year, through some bits and pieces, and he’s been so solid. But it happens. You have to find a way to overcome it. And we will.”

The injury creates a timeshare at third base, which Suarez has dominated all year. He has been perhaps the team’s best example of consistency in 2022, having already appeared in 142 games, and his 15 home runs since Aug. 1 tied New York shortstop Aaron Judge for the most in baseball during that span.

“He’s just such an integral part of what we do on a daily basis,” Servay said, “in different aspects of the game.”

Los Angeles tagged Ray for eight hits and five runs in Friday’s series opener, cruising to one victory. Seattle’s valiant comeback fell short with JP Crawford’s tying run at the plate.

Suarez will meet with a hand specialist on Monday in Arizona. Serve was adamant he was “not going too far” but could see a path for Suarez to be ready for the rest of his IL tenure.

Throwing is a bigger problem.

“It’s unpleasant,” Suarez admitted. “I want to be there to help my team and the guys who believe in me. I just want to play every day. … I hope I’ll be back soon.”

Expect Abraham Toro to man third base early and often in Suarez’s absence. Cerve and the coaching staff discussed other options, such as Ty France, who played the position in his minor and major league career.

Utility Dylan Moore can handle the hot corner. So can Seattle native Jake Lamb, acquired from the Dodgers before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

“It happens to every team. There are no questions. Every team has to go through different things throughout the year,” Servais said. “Mitch Haniger was probably our best offensive player last year and we missed him … for four months of this season.

“We survived because (others) stepped up.”

Haniger was available off the bench Saturday night. He has been out since leaving the Sept. 11 contest against Atlanta with a lower back strain. All-Star outfielder Julio Rodriguez was scratched shortly before the contest with the same injury, and Los Angeles took advantage of a depleted Seattle lineup in a 2-1 victory.

Reigning league MVP and Angels ace Shohei Ohtani was brilliant, pitching seven shutout innings with a walk and seven strikeouts. Taylor Trammell’s solo homer in the eighth inning was Seattle’s only offensive production.

“Disappointing,” Servay called it. “I knew it was going to be a tough, low-scoring game. I fully foresaw that this would be the case.

“It would have been great if we could have taken Ohtani out of the game a little earlier.”

Haniger returned to Seattle’s lineup on Sunday, but Rodriguez remained sidelined. Rengifa blasted starter Mark Gonzalez for two homers, leading the Halos to a 5-1 win. Los Angeles will play four games in Monday’s series finale.

The Mariners (80-65) remain in position to clinch their first postseason berth since 2001, still four games ahead of Baltimore (76-69) for the third and final AL wild card allocation.

Seattle trails Toronto (83-64) by two games for the top wild-card spot, which would guarantee a three-game home series in the first round.

JULIO CONTINUES SKILL OF THE YEAR

When Julio Rodriguez dove headfirst into second base on Wednesday — the 25th of his young and still blossoming career — the 21-year-old All-Star added another record to the baseball history books.

But what impressed Mariners manager Scott Cerve watching from home wasn’t the last on the rookie outfielder’s list of accomplishments. That’s what Rodriguez did afterward, with most of T-Mobile Park on its feet celebrating Seattle’s newest cornerstone.

The stolen base anchored a 25-steal, 25-homer season, the first by an American League rookie since Mike Trout (LAA) in 2012 and just the third time in history. Rodriguez was the first to accomplish the feat in his debut season.

Moments after second base umpire Trip Gibson ruled Rodriguez safe, the T-Mobile Park video scoreboard flashed 25-25. On Hispanic Heritage Day, Rodriguez took off his helmet and tilted it toward the crowd before pointing to a jersey that read “Marineros.”

For Rodriguez, it wasn’t about him or his milestone. It was about his Seattle team, which was well-prepared for its first postseason game in more than two decades.

“It’s about the Mariners,” Servette said Wednesday. “This is Julio Rodriguez.”

Before stealing a base in the fifth inning, Rodriguez hunted down a first-inning fastball from San Diego starter Mike Clevinger and destroyed the offering in the home bullpen, providing instant support to Seattle’s Luis Castillo.

Infielders Carlos Santana and Eugenio Suarez later homered and the Mariners beat the Padres 6-1 to split the series at two games after being shut out for the first time since June 19 the night before.

“I feel like it was a game we needed to win,” Rodriguez said. “Yesterday was a tough game, so I was ready to compete. … I’m happy I got the first inning and the guys got fired up.”

Rodriguez’s blast was an instant game-changer; their first run since Suarez hit a homer last Sunday to win the series over the defending champion Atlanta Braves.

His status as an alternate rookie of the year remains undisputed. Despite a slow start in April — perhaps due in part to poor officiating — Rodriguez hit his first homer in Miami on May 1 and never looked back, picking up back-to-back Rookie of the Month honors in May and June.

In July, he burst onto the national stage by hitting 81 home runs in the outfield seats at Dodger Stadium as part of a runner-up finish in the Home Run Derby. A day later, he and first baseman Ty France represented the Mariners in the All-Star Game.

“I don’t see myself as a rookie,” Rodriguez said after Wednesday’s win. “I see myself as a player like everyone else.

“I’m just happy to be able to give to the team.”

In 126 games for Seattle this season, Rodriguez is slashing .279/.343/.503 with 27 home runs, 73 RBI and 25 stolen bases. He is batting .447 (17-for-38) with five homers and seven RBI over his last 10 games while reaching base at a .533 clip.

Rodriguez missed Saturday’s contest in Los Angeles, with manager Servais citing stiffness. The rookie warmed up in the batting cages at Angel Stadium just 30 minutes before the first pitch, citing discomfort.

“It grabbed him,” Serve said of Rodriguez. “He didn’t feel good about it.”

The setback likely won’t cost him more than a few games – according to Serve, he’s considered day-to-day.

“I just feel like a few days off would be the best option,” he told MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer. “Especially now, it’s better to be careful with that.”

Rodriguez resumed working in the cage on Sunday but remained out of the lineup. The back flare isn’t “super alarming” for members of Seattle’s coaching staff.

SHORT HOPS

– Ahead of Wednesday’s game, Seattle announced starting pitcher Marco Gonzalez as the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is “awarded annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to MLB.

– George Kirby leads American League starters with 3.1 fWAR since July 1, ahead of a pair of contending aces: reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani (2.6) and Astros ace Justin Verlander (3.0).

In that stretch, Kirby is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in a dozen starts, walking eight and striking out 74. The Mariners are 9-3 in those contests.

ON DECK

The Mariners wrap up a four-game series with the Angels on Monday. Logan Gilbert is Seattle’s starter at Angel Stadium for the first game at 1:07 PM PT.

The company’s latest Seattle road trip continues all week with stops in Oakland (September 20-22) and Kansas City (September 23-25). The Mariners return home to T-Mobile Park to close out the regular season on September 27th.

Tyler Wicke joined The News Tribune in 2019 as a sports reporter. A 2021 graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma, Wike is involved in sailors, training and duty. Once a near-zero golfer, he’s just happy to break 80 now.

Source link