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Lewis hits 2 HRs in Mariners' intrasquad opener

@gregjohnsmlb
July 10, 2020

SEATTLE -- There were no fireworks when Kyle Lewis cranked a pair of home runs at T-Mobile Park on Friday, there was no celebratory music and even the normal high-fives from teammates were limited to cautious elbow bumps after he rounded the bases. But the Mariners’ 24-year-old rookie center fielder

SEATTLE -- There were no fireworks when Kyle Lewis cranked a pair of home runs at T-Mobile Park on Friday, there was no celebratory music and even the normal high-fives from teammates were limited to cautious elbow bumps after he rounded the bases.

But the Mariners’ 24-year-old rookie center fielder put on his own show as baseball returned to Seattle on Friday afternoon for the first time in 9 1/2 months.

Sure, it was just a six-inning intrasquad game between Mariners players who have been on hiatus since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the grass was green, the sun was out and -- even with no fans in the stands -- it felt like baseball again as Lewis unleashed two blasts to highlight the Summer Camp showing.

The Mariners did their best to make things seem semi-normal in these odd times. Artificial crowd noise cranked through the park at various times, the scoreboard was up and running and adrenaline was pumping for the participants.

As for the action on the field, the Mariners split into two teams -- with a hat tip to history as the home team was called the Pilots in honor of the original Seattle MLB team in 1969, while the visitors were the Steelheads in reference to Seattle’s Negro Leagues franchise from 1946.

The good news in the eventual 3-3 tie was that J.P. Crawford and Lewis hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the first inning. The bad news was both came off rookie right-hander Justin Dunn, who is looking to solidify his spot in the starting rotation. Such is the nature of intrasquad games, but the Mariners certainly welcome the sight of the offensive punch from their youngsters.

Lewis, in particular, has looked impressive in his first week back, and his first-inning solo shot carried high off the out-of-town scoreboard behind the bullpens in left-center field. Crawford pushed his fly ball just over the fence in right-center.

“Me and Kyle had a lot of days to talk about sequencing hitters and stuff,” said Dunn, a good friend of Lewis’ from their time together in Double-A Arkansas last year. “I literally think I’ve asked him about that sequence a thousand times, so I’m going to tip that up to he knew it was coming. But I’m his ride home. So he’s probably going to be walking home today. Either that, or he’s not getting food.”

The always calm and collected Lewis took that in stride as well.

“I’ll figure out a way,” Lewis said with a smile. “Maybe I’ll Uber.”

Lewis acknowledged he enjoyed thinking along with his buddy through the at-bat.

“We’ve been playing MLB The Show long enough, trying to see what each other is going to throw,” Lewis said. “He went with two sliders, and then fastball in. We’ve been talking about that a lot, so it was kind of cool to go back and forth. We’ll be able to talk about that later on, too.”

Lewis added his second homer with an opposite-field fly off Nick Margevicius in the third, and then he walked in his final plate appearance in the fifth. Dee Gordon hit a two-run single in the fourth, and Evan White followed with an RBI knock off Yohan Ramirez to tie the game at 3.

Left-hander Justus Sheffield, who pitched two scoreless innings for the home team, appreciated the run support from Lewis, who hit six homers in 18 games as a September callup last season.

“The dude is locked in right now,” Sheffield said. “On and off the field. I feel like he’s going to have a really big year for us. He’s always had the talent, and he’s really starting to put it together. Hopefully, he can keep it going through this Summer Camp and push it through the season.”

Dunn bounced back from the two-homer first with a 1-2-3 second, and he said he felt good just getting back on the mound.

“Sheff and I looked at each other before the game, and I asked, ‘Are you as juiced up as I am?’” Dunn said. “It was just good to get out and compete again and get the juices flowing. I was super happy to get back out there.”

Sheffield noted the empty stadium felt odd, but he focused on business.

“I was pretty pumped up and had the nerves flowing,” Sheffield said. “It was definitely weird at first, but once I got between the lines, everything settled in and it was baseball. I feel like once we keep going, it’ll get more normal.”

And if “normal” means Lewis keeps cranking home runs, the Mariners will be just fine with that.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.