Mariners produce comeback not seen since 1991

J-Rod's second jack erases four-run deficit as Seattle scores seven times in final two frames

July 26th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last time the Mariners won the way they did on Tuesday night at Target Field, George H.W. Bush was in the White House, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sequel to "The Terminator" paced the box office and only five players on the 26-man roster had been born.

For the first time on the road since Sept. 27, 1991, Seattle stormed back from four runs down in the eighth inning en route to a dramatic 9-7 win that was maybe their most improbable in this up-and-down season.

pummeled a game-tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning, ripped a go-ahead, two-run double with no outs and the bases loaded in the ninth and -- working his fifth game in six days -- closed out his 20th save to help even this series.

The victory also pushed the Mariners (51-50) above .500 with just five games to go before next Tuesday’s Trade Deadline.

But those three were hardly the only contributors on a night in which virtually everyone chipped in. The collective effort, in many ways, helped wash away some of the stinging start to this road trip, after an extra-innings loss on Monday.

“It felt the best, because at the end of the day, the only thing that I care about is just winning games,” said Rodríguez, who also crushed a second-deck solo shot in the second inning.

Rodríguez was positioned for his game-tying blast after J.P. Crawford and Suárez walked with no outs and Teoscar Hernández followed with an RBI groundout.

Rodríguez punched a high-and-away, 96 mph fastball for a 368-foot blast beyond right field, a trademark sign of his raw opposite-field power that’s mostly eluded him in 2023, as he hadn’t homered to right since May 26. Before Saturday, he went three weeks without leaving the yard.

It was also the first homer from a right-handed batter off Twins reliever Emilio Pagán’s fastball all season.

It also marked Rodríguez’s first multi-homer game since Seattle’s dramatic win over Atlanta last September at T-Mobile Park, and it came on a day where he was dropped to the No. 5 spot in the order.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Rodríguez has been the center of a notable lineup change, but it was unique in that he hadn’t hit fifth all season.

And after Rodríguez was the first among Seattle’s Nos. 2-4 batters to go hitless with the go-ahead run on second base during Monday’s extra-innings loss, manager Scott Servais shook things up. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, given that the .642 OPS from the five-hole is the club’s lowest in the lineup.

“I feel like for everybody that you ask, it doesn't matter how good or how bad you are, you've got to be on time,” Rodríguez said. “You've got to swing at the right pitches. And I felt like that was just kind of the simple part of it.”

After thriving in huge moments last year, Rodríguez entered Tuesday hitting .183/.318/.310 (.628 OPS) with just one homer in high-leverage moments in 2023, per Baseball-Reference. The difference on Tuesday?

“He swung at the right pitches,” Servais said. “He was aggressive, got some balls, he hit the ball in the air. And Julio when he does hit the ball, he hits the ball so hard -- and we need to get him to hit it in the air a little bit more frequently.”

If Rodríguez had Tuesday’s biggest moment, Cade Marlowe might’ve been the game’s MVP.

Recalled from Triple-A Tacoma last Thursday in the wake of Jarred Kelenic’s fractured left foot, Marlowe crushed his first Major League homer. But it was his leadoff walk in the ninth that was maybe even more vital.

After, Marlowe stole second base then advanced to third after Kolten Wong’s well-executed sacrifice bunt to keep reliever Oliver Ortega on the ropes and set up Suárez’s dagger.

“Just get on base, any way,” Marlowe said of his approach. “I was thinking of laying down a bunt, they were kind of playing in. But it worked out. I got on base and we wound up scoring a few runs.”

The comeback also spelled George Kirby from a confounding start in which he struck out nine, but couldn’t make it beyond the fourth inning after his pitch count reached 89.

Kirby surrendered a Twins-wide cycle in the first inning that led to four runs, and each of the first seven balls in play against him landed for a hit.

“Weird,” Kirby said of the outing.