Mariners 5, Padres 4 at Peoria Stadium
Julio Rodriguez driving in Jarred Kelenic for a walkoff victory? Sure it’s just a Cactus League game, but dare to dream, Mariners fans.
“Not just Mariners fans, but how about the manager?” Scott Servais said of those dreams. “Those kids are fun. They really are. They come to the park every day, just trying to get better and learn from the group we have around them, and it’s great getting them those experiences.”
With two outs in the ninth inning and facing onetime Mariners reliever Parker Markell, Kelenic worked a four-pitch walk. Markell hit Braden Bishop with a pitch and walked Jack Reinheimer to load the bases and bring Rodriguez to the plate.
The Mariners’ young outfield prospect struggled in his first two at-bats of the spring, striking out and hitting a half-swing ground ball to second. But given the amount of breaking pitches he saw in his first two at-bats, he had an idea of what was coming.
“Knowing the situation of the game, I’m expecting breaking ball on the first pitch,” he said. “They know what kind of hitter I am. I was expecting a slider and I took advantage of it.”
Rodriguez smoked a line drive up the middle to score Kelenic with the game-winning run, later getting doused with some water by teammates.
“I just want to show what I can actually do,” he said. “I came here in really good shape and I’m confident in what I can do and be to this team.”
Marco Gonzales, the Mariners’ opening-day starter for the regular season, also got the opening-day start for Cactus League play. He looked solid, pitching 1 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, one unearned run with a walk. A pair of errors from Dylan Moore and Kyle Seager didn’t allow Gonzales to finish the first inning.
Having thrown more than 20 pitches, the Mariners opted to “roll” the inning, ending it with two outs. Gonzales did finish the second inning, working it scoreless while allowing a double to his old catcher Austin Nola.
The Mariners got all of their offense from a starting lineup that could quite possibly be the opening-day lineup April 1.
Seager delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the first while Moore and Evan White drove in the other runs with an RBI single and a two-run double, respectively.
Player of the game
While Rodriguez provided the late-inning heroics, White had a solid game. He worked a walk in his first plate appearance and then smoked a two-run double over the head of left fielder Tommy Pham in the third inning. White also made two outstanding digs on poor throws to first base.
“As (Jarred Kelenic) said in an interview, it’s time for the Mariners fans to get excited because I feel like we have a really good team. We have really, really good players in this organization so it is a really good time to get excited about them. To be honest, that’s something I can see for a long, long time.” — Rodriguez on driving in Kelenic for a win in future MLB games.
The Mariners will have Monday off from games and all activity at the complex. It is their first of two scheduled off days without games this spring. They will return to action Tuesday, hosting Cleveland. Lefty Yusei Kikuchi will get the start for Seattle with right-handers Gerson Bautista, Joey Gerber, Taylor Guerrieri, Yohan Ramirez, Jaime Schultz, Erik Swanson and Domingo Tapia scheduled to pitch. Cleveland will start right-hander Adam Plutko. First pitch is set for 12:10 p.m. PT. The game will not be televised, but it will have a live radio broadcast on ESPN 710-AM and mariners.com