Julio powers offensive eruption as Mariners dodge sweep

May 26th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- Following a second straight loss to the Nationals on Saturday night, the Mariners had a team meeting, during which manager Scott Servais delivered a simple message.

They needed to come out and play better.

Just in time to avoid a series sweep, the offense broke through to help power a 9-5 win over the Nats on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

“We need to just go out and compete,” Servais said before the series finale. “Compete and find a way to try and put some things together. It has been a struggle with us here in the last couple of days.”

For the second time this series, the Mariners found their way on the board first. With runners on first and third in the second inning, Jorge Polanco grounded into a force out, scoring Mitch Garver for a 1-0 lead.

Unlike Friday and Saturday’s one-run efforts, the Mariners kept scoring in their first multihomer effort since a 6-3 win over the Yankees on Tuesday.

led off the fourth inning with his second solo homer in two days, launching the ball at an exit velocity of 108.8 mph to left-center field. One batter later, Ty France followed Rodríguez’s lead, sending his sixth homer of the season to left field for two more runs, giving the Mariners a 4-0 lead.

“As we all know, [Rodríguez] is a really young, aggressive hitter. When he gets the ball in the zone, he’s going to hit it hard,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.

With those two homers, Seattle did what Servais had asked for: run support for the starters. Bryan Woo allowed three runs on five hits (including his first home run of the season) over six innings, which raised his ERA to 1.66. He threw 20 of 24 first pitches for strikes.

“I thought Bryan was awesome today, really efficient,” Servais said. “I think he’s thrown the ball very well in his last four or five outings. He’s got the split going again and the fastball has been a really good one.”

Woo was limited to 70 pitches (49 strikes), exiting the game in the seventh as Seattle continues to monitor his workload following his stint on the injured list at the beginning of the season.

The Nats, hungry for a sweep, scored five straight runs to eventually take the lead, 5-4, in the bottom of the seventh. But Seattle was not going to be deterred from returning home on a good note.

On a 1-1 count in the eighth inning, Rodríguez singled for his second hit of the game, this time driving in J.P. Crawford, who had just doubled, for the game-tying run to begin the rally.

“The Crawford at-bat leading off the next inning after they had taken the lead was huge,” Servais said. “Long at-bat, gets a double and the train starts rolling after that.”

France then came up to the plate and singled on a line drive into right field, just enough for Rodríguez to score the go-ahead run.

In the ninth, the Mariners kept it up. Josh Rojas came in to score after Dylan Moore was hit by a pitch, making the lead 7-5. Rodríguez continued his hot streak, sending a single into right field for two more runs.

As a team, they went 10-for 37 with only six strikeouts in the series finale. On Friday and Saturday, they went 5-for-32 on both days and combined for 22 strikeouts. Sunday's effort was the type of the performance the team knew was coming.

“It’s huge to finish off the road trip on a bit better note,” Woo said. “Our clubhouse and everyone within it knows that our team is really, really good. It’s not just pitching, our offense is really good. We’ve got a lot of good bats, a lot of good guys. So it’ll come along.”

Having shown that they can power through adversity, the Mariners will have to work to stay consistent when they return home for their seven-game homestand starting on Monday with a series against the Astros. Servais said consistent offense and Rodríguez’s hot bat will be key to carrying them to the next off-day on June 3.