Mariners 3, Guardians 2 at Peoria Stadium
After a lackluster showing in his previous outing, right-hander Chris Flexen found the rhythm he wanted on the mound and the command of his secondary pitches vs. Cleveland. Flexen pitched five innings, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts. His lone run allowed came on a homer off the bat of Andres Gimenez in the first inning.
The Mariners tied the game in the third when Julio Rodriguez led off with an infield single on a ground ball to third. He stole second and scored on Adam Frazier’s single to center. The duo did it again in the fifth inning. Rodriguez led off with a walk and scored on Frazier’s single to right field.
Frazier is batting .474 this spring.
Andres Munoz, Erik Swanson and Devin Sweet all tossed scoreless innings. Sweet picked up the save.
Player of the game
There isn’t much more Rodriguez can do to show the Mariners that he should be the opening-day starter in center field. But he tried in this game. Besides the infield single and stolen base, he made an outstanding defensive play in center field. He played Josh Naylor’s long flyball off the wall perfectly, firing a strong throw to second to thwart an attempt for a sure double.
But the capper came in the seventh inning and facing the Guardians’ hard-throwing closer Emmanuel Clase. Rodriguez hit a towering flyball to deep right-center. The ball bounced off the wall and away from the outfielders. Showing explosive speed, Rodriguez circled the bases and dived headfirst into home for the first inside-the-park homer of his professional career.
“Honestly, off the bat, I knew I got it good and I thought it might go out, but in my heart I knew it was not going out,” he said. “I was like I gotta put my head down and keep going. Today, I picked up my the third base coach, not like yesterday. He was sending me once I touched the (second base) bag because I was sprinting. I knew it was going to be a triple at least.”
“Julio is a fun player to watch, obviously a ton of ability and a great personality on top of it. He had a rough day yesterday. But to his credit, he shows up today with a smile on his face and ready to go to work. We’ve talked about it. He’ll learn from it. It certainly didn’t affect him tonight. No holdover in a negative way at all.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
The Mariners will host the Rockies in another night game at Talking Stick. Right-handed pitching prospects Matt Brash and George Kirby will have their last outings to show they deserve the last spot in the starting rotation. The Rockies will start lefty Kyle Freeland. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. The game will televised live on ROOT Sports Northwest and broadcast live on Seattle Sports 710-AM.