SEATTLE -- The Mariners’ 2019 season will be remembered as a season of farewells, with Félix Hernández and Ichiro Suzuki ending their spectacular runs in Seattle. It’ll also be recalled as the year Edgar Martinez finally found his place in Cooperstown and a host of young players began carving their
SEATTLE -- The Mariners’ 2019 season will be remembered as a season of farewells, with Félix Hernández and Ichiro Suzuki ending their spectacular runs in Seattle. It’ll also be recalled as the year Edgar Martinez finally found his place in Cooperstown and a host of young players began carving their own niches in the franchise’s lore.
Here are the Top 10 moments -- as well as one pretty cool honorable mention -- from a season that had plenty of highlights despite a last-place finish from a club transitioning to the future.
1. The King has left the building
Sept. 26 vs. Athletics
After 15 years as the Mariners’ ace and long-time face, Hernández put on an emotional show in his final outing at T-Mobile Park before becoming a free agent at season’s end. After dealing with injuries much of the year, the 33-year-old came back in time to close out the season on the mound and he was serenaded by cheers and a heartfelt farewell from his faithful King’s Court and the Seattle fans throughout his 5 1/3 inning outing in a 3-1 loss to the playoff-bound A’s.
2. Ichiro says sayonara in Tokyo
March 21 vs. Athletics
Another Mariners icon bid farewell just as the season was getting underway, with Suzuki announcing his retirement following Seattle’s 5-4, 12-inning victory over the A’s in the Tokyo Dome in the second game of the Opening Series in Japan. For the 45-year-old legend, it was the perfect full-circle sendoff, as he closed out an amazing career back in his homeland after 19 seasons and 3,089 hits in MLB.
3. Mariners shatter MLB home-run mark
April 11 at Royals
Dee Gordon isn’t one you’d expect to set a home run record, but it was the speedy second baseman’s solo shot in the sixth inning of a 7-6, 10-inning victory at Kauffman Stadium that put the Mariners into the books by going deep in 15 straight games to open a season. Daniel Vogelbach added the game-winner that day with another solo smash in the 10th to improve the Mariners’ record to an MLB-best 13-2. They wound up homering in 20 consecutive games before the streak finally came to an end.
4. A three-homer game for Seager
Aug. 13 at Tigers
Kyle Seager launched three home runs in an 11-6 win at Comerica Park, getting a little help on the final one, as Tigers center fielder Niko Goodrum deflected the ball over the fence as he braced for a collision with teammate Brandon Dixon in the left-center gap. Seager hit a solo shot in the fourth, a three-run blast in the sixth and a two-run clout in the ninth, tying his career high with six RBIs. It was just the 13th time a Mariner has hit three or more homers in a game and the first since third baseman Jose Lopez did it in 2010.
5. Rookie arrives with a bang
Sept. 12 vs. Reds
Rookie outfielder Kyle Lewis wasted no time making an impression upon Seattle, as the 24-year-old from Georgia became just the second player in MLB history to homer in his first three games. The 2016 first-round Draft pick’s third homer was a 457-foot blast, as he went 3-for-5 with a double as well in an 11-5 loss to the Reds at T-Mobile Park. Lewis' center-field bolt leading off the fifth was the longest Statcast-recorded home run of the year by the Mariners. He wound up becoming the first MLB player to homer in six of his first 10 games, taking full advantage of his September promotion from Double-A Arkansas.
6. Hall of Fame finally welcomes Edgar
July 22 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
It took 10 years of wondering and hoping and promoting, but Edgar Martinez said it was well worth the wait when he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. A large number of Mariners fans made the trek to upstate New York to celebrate Martinez’s induction, as No. 11 jerseys and teal shirts dominated Main Street in Cooperstown. His fans made their presence known at the Clark Sports Center as well, when he gave a heartfelt 12-minute acceptance speech as one of the six inductees in the 2019 class.
7. Crawford flips out
June 15 at Athletics
J.P. Crawford showed a flare for the dramatic in his first year at shortstop for Seattle, and one of his highlight-reel plays came in the fifth inning of an 11-2 loss to the A’s, when Crawford made a diving stop of a hard grounder up the middle by Marcus Semien. But it was what happened next that made this one special. Realizing that he had no chance to throw out the speedy Semien, Crawford flipped the ball straight from his glove to second baseman Dylan Moore, who turned and fired to Daniel Vogelbach at first for the out.
8. J.P. unleashes best throw of the year
July 27 vs. Tigers
Crawford was at it again a month later against Detroit, making an excellent diving stop in the hole to snag a grounder by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario. But again it was what Crawford did to finish the play that made this one spectacular. He quickly torqued his body and unleashed a perfect twisting, mid-air throw to first baseman Austin Nola for the final out in the top of the ninth. The Mariners wound up with a walkoff win in the bottom of the frame in a 3-2 victory.
9. Mallex steals for the cycle
May 27 vs. Rangers
It’s not unusual for Mallex Smith to swipe a bag. He led the Majors in stolen bases with 46, after all, in his first season with the Mariners. But the 26-year-old speedster took it to another level in a 6-2 win over the Rangers at T-Mobile Park, stealing second, third and home in the eighth inning. Smith finished with a career-best four stolen bases that night, tying a club record.
10. So that’s what a Haniger homer looks like
March 18 vs. Yomiuri Giants
It didn’t count in his regular-season stats and was largely overshadowed by the Ichiro mania in Japan, but Mitch Haniger provided a cool moment -- that was uniquely captured on a camera on the mask of the home plate umpire -- when he blasted a mammoth two-run homer in the Mariners’ second and final exhibition game in the Tokyo Dome prior to their Opening Series sweep of the A’s. There was no Statcast to measure Haniger’s two-run blast in the seventh inning that helped the Mariners rally for a 6-5 win, but the ball wound up caroming high off the advertising signs on the back wall of the Tokyo Dome, drawing oohs and ahhs from appreciative Japanese fans.
Honorable mention: Vogey reaches upper deck in right
May 27 vs. Rangers
It came in the same 6-2 win over Texas during which Smith stole for the cycle, but Vogelbach added his own highlight with a towering two-run homer into the third-deck down the right-field line at T-Mobile off Rangers reliever Jose LeClerc. The homer came on a day Statcast wasn’t working, so there was no official measurement. But Vogelbach reached rare territory, joining Mo Vaughn of the Angels (1999) and Carlos Delgado of the Blue Jays (‘01) as the only players to reach the upper deck above the Hit It Here Café in a regular season game since the ballpark opened in ‘99.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.