'Let's go': J-Rod's 450-foot HR powers Mariners

Rookie's 1st career dinger helps club end 4-game slide; Gilbert lowers ERA to 0.64

May 1st, 2022

MIAMI -- When the Marlins intentionally walked Abraham Toro on Sunday afternoon, Julio Rodríguez was ready to make them pay. 

Boy, did he.

Rodríguez, baseball’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, smashed his first Major League home run in that sixth inning, leading the Mariners to a 7-3 victory in the series finale at loanDepot park.

The three-run homer gave Seattle a 5-0 lead and helped the team snap a four-game slide, while ending Miami’s seven-game winning streak.

“That was a first -- and that’s what they got,” Rodríguez said.

“It was ‘OK, you want to challenge me, I’m going to give you the challenge.’ That is what I was feeling. ‘You want it? Let’s go.’ … I was really excited, honestly. It felt really good to get my first homer in a game like that.”

Rodríguez hit a 3-1 slider from Miami ace Sandy Alcantara (2-1); the ball went off his bat at 110.4 mph and traveled a Statcast-projected 450 feet, making it the longest homer hit by a Mariner this season.

“That’s kind of the Julio breakout game,” manager Scott Servais said. “We have been waiting for that first home run to come and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He killed it. That was a bomb. He continues to trend in the right direction. He tells me all the time that he’s ‘trending.’ We’ll keep riding that trend.”

Alcantara retired the first two batters in the sixth before J.P. Crawford, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a solo homer in the second, doubled into the gap.

Miami, which was down 2-0, did not think twice about giving Toro a free pass with first base open and two outs.

“Toro already got a hit to drive in a run,’’ Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I know this is a talented young kid that's going to be really good. You hate to get him excited and all, but I mean it's just such a better matchup for Sandy.”

Added Servais: “Toro has been having good at-bats and Julio is a rookie who has not exactly set the world on fire yet. So, make the rookie beat you. And he did.”

The ball ended up going into the open area beyond the left-field fence and Rodríguez had already swung a deal to get it back.

According to him, he was trading a couple of autographed baseballs and a bat for his milestone collector’s item.

“I’m excited to meet [the fans],’’ Rodríguez said. “I have to keep that one.”

Rodríguez’s big bop almost overshadowed another gem from Logan Gilbert (4-0). The right-hander had a no-hitter going until Jon Berti singled with two outs in the fifth. He also got the first two outs of the sixth before Brian Anderson ended his day with a home run to left.

Over 5 2/3 innings, Gilbert, whose 0.64 ERA through the first five starts of a season is the lowest in Mariners history, allowed one run on three hits and four walks to go with five strikeouts. Gilbert, who grew up in the Orlando area and attended Stetson University, went 2-0 in his two Sunshine State starts. By contrast, the Mariners were 0-4 in games he did not pitch in against the Rays and Marlins.

“I love being back home, it’s nice,” said Gilbert, who had a large group of friends and family make it to Miami as they did last week in St. Petersburg.

Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the third on a home run from Crawford that landed in the Mariners’ bullpen beyond the right-field wall.

In the fourth, Toro made it 2-0 with a two-out single that scored Jesse Winker.

Miami made it 5-2 in the seventh, but Winker drove in a pair of runs in the ninth to all but seal the deal for Seattle.

The Mariners now head to Houston after going 2-4 in the Florida portion of this nine-game road trip.

“It’s a nice way to be headed to Houston, we certainly needed the ‘W’,” Servais said. “We have had our hands full here, so I think it’s time we got out of Florida.’’