Julio Rodriguez hits first homer, Mariners move into first place with win over Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — “Um, hey, um, so Julio, you know you can’t take that trident into the outfield, right? Just put it down. Yeah, it feels like Cal Raleigh has been having a lot of trouble lately, but you’ll be able to get your hands on him again.”

But this joyful reunion between a young power-hitting superstar and his home run party prop came after a longer time than expected or desired.

Playing in his 23rd game and 94th at bat of the season, Julio Rodriguez finally hit his first homerun. And it wasn’t a wall scraper. It was a massive two-run explosion on a badly misplaced 1-0 sinker by Rangers starter Dane Dunning into the upper deck of Globe Life Field.

It led to an overly excited celebration with the trident and then to excessive hugging of the 6-foot-tall, gold-painted metal weapon as if it were a long-lost puppy that was finally found and returned home.

“I loved it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my old friend.”

And while Rodriguez hit his first long ball of the season, he wasn’t even the first Mariners player to homer on Tuesday night. No, Raleigh hit his fourth homer in five games — a towering two-run blast in the first inning on an 0-2 pitch by Dunning.

“I have some work to do to catch up,” Rodriguez said.

The two home runs and four support runs were all Logan Gilbert and the Mariners trio of leverage relievers needed as they eliminated the defending World Series champions in a 4-0 victory.

The win snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Mariners at Globe Life dating back to the 2022 season.

“It’s a good way to start the series,” manager Scott Servais said. “Obviously we had to flip the script here in this ballpark. Last year they had our number here. I give our guys a lot of credit. They came in very focused today and once again defeated Logan Gilbert.”

Seattle improved to 12-11 on the season and took the lead in the AL West from the Rangers, who fell to 12-12. The Mariners have won eight of their last eleven games.

“They’re a great team, but at the same time we’re a great team,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like we can agree with everyone. It shows how good a team we have. We will continue to build on this momentum and just keep playing our ball.”

Gilbert did what he has been doing all season and gave his team an optimal chance to win when he took the mound.

Facing a lineup full of dangerous hitters, including several from the left side of the plate, Gilbert turned in another solid performance in a season full of them, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with an uncharacteristic four walks and six strikeouts. .

“I really love where he is,” Servais said. “Logan has made a great start. And I thought his behavior tonight from the beginning was like, ‘Hey, I want to go after these guys,’ and he really took it out on them. He was on the attack, as were all our guys tonight, and that was great to see.”

Gilbert improved to 2-0 with a 1.87 ERA in five starts and 33 2/3 innings this season. Opponents have a .161/.214/.297 slash line against him with 35 strikeouts and eight walks. It was Seattle’s 13the quality starts of more than six innings and three runs or fewer allowed this season – the most in the American League.

Over the last 11 games, Mariners starting pitchers have delivered 10 of these quality starts while allowing a total of 10 runs in 69 1/3 innings pitched for a 1.30 ERA. They struckout 70 batters and walked only 13.

“Now that guys like Cal and Julio are getting hot, it helps a lot,” Gilbert said. “It gives me some freedom to fill the strike zone.”

He now has a 31-0 record in starts with his teammates scoring at least three points while he is in the game.

The addition of the cutter (cut fastball) helped, giving Gilbert a weapon to combat all the left-handed and switch-hitters the Rangers put in the lineup.

“I don’t think we used it much against them in spring training,” Gilbert said. “So it was there today when we needed it, and we went there often. I think it helped. It gave a different look. It is something that moves towards the leftists. A lot of my stuff faces north-south. I felt like it worked. We just got on with it.”

Gilbert threw the cutter to Rangers hitters 22 times. It kept them off balance and helped set up his slider and fastball.

After working about two walks in the first inning, Gilbert didn’t run into trouble until the seventh. He allowed a leadoff double to Nathaniel Lowe on a strong sinking liner that Rodriguez couldn’t quite keep together with a sliding attempt. After retiring the next two batters, he walked Jonah Heim on his 100th pitch of the game.

“It seems like two or three starts in a row now,” Gilbert said of ending his outing with a walk. “I’m only one field away from the finish. I just wanted to do one more pitch and just get it over with.

Servais brought in Ryne Stanek, who caused Leody Taveras to ground out to JP Crawford to end the inning.

Gabe Speier looked dominant and struckout two batters in the eighth. Andres Muñoz scored a scoreless ninth to preserve the shutout.



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