NEW YORK — The growth of Julio Rodriguez comes in bursts while the lessons of playing Major League Baseball at age 21 are being learned daily.
On Sunday, Rodriguez reached based five times in five plate appearances while tallying his first four-hit game of his career. One of those hits was his second homer of the season — a laser of a line drive that tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth inning. He also added an RBI single in the seventh inning which seemed like insurance at the time but eventually proved to be the difference in the Mariners’ 8-7 win over the Mets.
Rodriguez’s first hit came in the second inning off Mets starter Carlos Carrasco. With one out, he tried to add to his league-leading stolen-base total, but as he broke for second, Mike Ford hit a pop-up to right field. Rodriguez dived head first into second and didn’t know what was happening. He actually broke for third instead of going back to first. Right fielder Starling Marte fired the ball to first base after making the catch for an inning-ending double play.
“I know that was a play that just happened in the beginning of the game and I know that was definitely my mistake,” he said. “But I feel like if you don’t learn from the situation and learn how to move on to the next page, you’re just going to get stuck in a moment and you’re not going to be able to provide later in the game for the team.”
Rodriguez provided in a big way in his next two plate appearances. He worked a walk to load the bases in the fourth inning, setting up Mike Ford for a two-run single.
With the Mariners down a run going into the sixth inning, Rodriguez led off against lefty Chasen Shreve. After fouling off 3-1 and 3-2 pitches, Rodriguez hammered a fastball into the left-field seats. The ball had a 114-mph exit velocity and traveled 423 feet. It was the hardest hit ball for a homer by a Mariner this season, tying Jarred Kelenic.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was trying to shoot it to right field or right-center field,” he said. “I was in my two-strike approach but I was able to get the bat head out and be able to drive it.”
After a slow start, Rodriguez now has a .264/.328/.368 slash line in 34 games this season.
“Huge day for Julio obviously, after a little gaffe there early in the game on the baserunning,” manager Scott Servais said. “Credit to him. He was able to regroup and didn’t let that get into the rest of his game. He continued to have a great game.”
For Rodriguez, life in the big leagues becomes a little more normal with each day.
“I feel like the more you are around it and the more you see stuff, the more you adjust,” he said. “That’s something that I felt very comfortable with, kind of stepping out of my comfort zone and learning and seeing what they are actually going to try to do to me. I’ve been able to learn.”
Rodriguez joins Ken Griffey Jr. (three times) and Alex Rodriguez (three times) as the only Mariners players 21 or younger to reach base five times in one game.
Elias is up
Lefty Roenis Elias was in the Mariners clubhouse before Sunday’s game. He wasn’t added to the roster and was considered to be on the taxi squad. With the Mariners traveling to Toronto and vaccinations required, Elias will take the place of a player who isn’t vaccinated and won’t make the trip.
Servias confirmed a couple of players wouldn’t be making the trip.
But per an agreement between MLB and the players union, he wouldn’t provide any details. He is not allowed to speak of a player’s vaccination status.