It is so very early in Kyle Lewis’ professional career, and it’s certainly way too soon to proclaim any sort of career potential based on his limited production.
But there’s no denying what the former first-round pick has displayed so far as a shot of electricity to the end of the Mariners’ otherwise forgettable 2019 season.
Lewis did it again, hitting his fourth home run in the sixth game of his big-league career, and again it was in a big spot. His three-run blast over the wall in dead center gave the Mariners life in the bottom of the eighth inning as he pointed to his brother in the T-Mobile Park stands after crossing home plate.
“I’m just trying to see how things go, get in the flow of it and give it my best shot every day,” Lewis said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Then in the ninth Lewis advanced Austin Nola from first to third on his third hit of the game before Nola scored on Tom Murphy’s bases-loaded walk-off walk in the Mariners’ 11-10 comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
It was the Mariners’ (62-88) second walk-off win in as many days after Omar Narvaez’s walk-off home run in the 10th inning Saturday night.
But how about this scintillating first week for Lewis? He is the first player in Mariners history with four home runs in his first six games and his nine RBI is the most in franchise history through six games.
“I would say it’s been pretty good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That’s a good way to start your Mariners career.
“Even today you start thinking he’s missing some pitches he had been on. Doesn’t faze him. He stays with his approach.”
Lewis has reached base in all six games he’s played, and that eighth-inning shot was the spark the Mariners needed in a five-run rally to tie the game. They entered the frame trailing, 10-5.
That’s why it’s not hard to see why many Mariners fans have already started passing the torch of the club’s future to this 24-year-old from Georgia. But he’s keeping this in perspective.
“I don’t think you can put a torch on somebody after a week of games,” Lewis said. “It takes awhile to get that. But I’m just going to keep working. It’s hard to live in that back and forth when this is such a roller-coaster ride. There are ups and downs and you just got to live with it and be who you are.”
And if he needs any notifying, maybe fellow rookie Justus Sheffield can attest to just how suddenly things can go from really good to really not in big-league baseball
Sheffield, in his fifth MLB start, went from what was shaping to be the best outing of his season to chaos when the White Sox scored eight runs on him and reliever Brandon Brennan in the fifth inning to erase the Mariners’ 5-0 lead.
Here was Sheffield’s stellar line entering the fifth inning: 4 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts (already a career-best) on a comfortable 52 pitches.
His final line: 4 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 1 walk, 8 strikeouts on 82 pitches.
“He was really, really good through four innings,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That was the best we’d seen of Justus Sheffield – no question about it.
“That’s how good he can be. But also that’s how quick it can turn on you in this league.”
It seemed like Sheffield had total control of his fastball, slider and changeup until that fifth frame, when he threw four consecutive balls to walk leadoff hitter Yolmer Sanchez.
He appeared to have induced a ground ball out after that, but Austin Nola misplayed it at first base and just missed on an all-out dive to try to beat Zack Collins to the bag.
Adam Engel followed by crushing a three-run home run to left field.
Jose Abreu later picked up his American League-best 117th RBI on a single before Mariners manager Scott Servais pulled Sheffield’s plug – having faced seven batters and getting just one out in the fifth.
“I didn’t do my job, that’s what it boils down to,” Sheffield said.
But the floodgates officially opened two batters later. Former Mariners catcher Welington Castillo belted a grand slam off of Brandon Brennan to give the White Sox an 8-5 lead.
That was after the Mariners batted around for five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, which was kickstarted by Lewis’ leadoff double. It was highlighted by fellow rookie Donnie Walton, called up from Double-A Arkansas the same day as Lewis on Sept. 10, who got his first career RBI on a bases-loaded single.
But the Mariners didn’t add on until trailing 10-5 in the eighth. Kyle Seager hit an RBI single before Lewis’ three-run jack.
Daniel Vogelbach then walked, Keon Broxton entered to pinch-run, and with two outs, Mallex Smith hit single to score the speedy Broxton from second and tie the score.
Murphy stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth. The bases were loaded after Dee Gordon was intentionally walked after Lewis’ single, and Murphy rallied from a 1-2 count to draw the walk-off walk.
* MLB issued a statement saying it regretted that a miscommunication between the White Sox and the umpires in the Mariners’ 2-1 win Saturday night resulted in no review of Narvaez’s 10th-inning walk-off home run.
“In last night’s game there was a conversation between the umpires and the White Sox as to the procedure for potentially reviewing two different aspects of the game-ending play,” MLB’s statement read. “There was then a misinterpretation regarding Chicago’s desire to have any aspect of the play reviewed. We regret that this miscommunication resulted in not reviewing the home run call on the field.
* OF Domingo Santana (elbow inflammation) will travel with the Mariners when they embark for a three-game series, starting Tuesday, and he could play in Pittsburgh, though he likely won’t start until the Mariners head to Baltimore on Friday.