Perfect 10: Lewis off to blistering start in '20

August 3rd, 2020

SEATTLE -- Mariners center fielder continued his rookie crusade with a solo homer in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the A’s at T-Mobile Park, extending his hitting streak to 10 games to open the season.

Lewis’ 420-foot blast off reliever Yusmeiro Petit was his third of the season and the 1-for-4 day put the 25-year-old’s batting average at .425 (17-for-40). The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder leads the Majors with 17 hits, which ties him with Endy Chavez’s 2009 club record for most hits in the first 10 games of a season.

Lewis and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson are the only players in the Majors to have hits in all 10 games this year.

The rookie's latest homer wasn’t enough to save the day for Seattle, however, as the young Mariners dropped their second in a row and fell to 4-6 on the season. The A’s managed just five hits, but a three-run homer by Ramón Laureano off rookie reliever Anthony Misiewicz in the fifth proved to be the difference.

But on a club looking to build around a nucleus of promising prospects, Lewis’ exploits continue to shine, and manager Scott Servais said the rookie’s composure has been impressive.

“He has the ability to stay in the moment,” Servais said. “He doesn’t get too far ahead or look behind at what’s happened. Even today, they made some good pitches to him and he was a little off. But he put that aside, walked up there and had a good at-bat and hit the tar out of that one.

“This game at this level, with all the information everybody has about you, teams are quickly making adjustments to try to figure him out. That’s the kind of start he’s gotten off to and that’s the kind of player he’s going to be.”

After proving he could hit the fastball early, Lewis has seen a lot of breaking pitches and different approaches through the first 10 games. And while he’s struck out 17 times in 44 plate appearances, he’s proven more than capable of staying back and driving offspeed offerings to right field and not just being pull-happy.

“It’s flipping around,” Lewis said of opposing pitchers’ game plans. “Teams are trying to do different things, so I’m trying not to follow the pitchers around, just stay with what I want to do and stay with my approach as much as I can. I definitely notice a difference as the series develops with how they try to attack me, but I’m just trying to stay with what I know how to do.”

What Lewis knows how to do is stay on pitches in the zone and drive the ball with authority when given the chance, which is how he’s managed to put together his 10-game hitting streak.

But the rookie said he wasn’t worried about that when he stepped to the plate with an 0-for-3 under his belt in the bottom of the eighth.

“I wasn’t really aware of the hitting streak during the game,” he said. “I’m not trying to keep a streak alive. But I wanted to see one late in the game and not rush. I wanted to get one over the middle of the plate and he left a fastball over the middle that I was able to get the barrel to. I felt I’d been overswinging throughout the day, so I just tried to keep it short and simple.”

The home run was Lewis’ ninth in 28 career games, having hit six in 18 games last year as a September callup. That ties him with Mariners Hall of Famer Alvin Davis for the most home runs in the first 28 games of a career in club history.

Graveman dealing with neck issue
Kendall Graveman didn’t allow a run for the first four frames of his second start with Seattle, running the rotation’s streak to 23 1/3 innings without an earned run over the last four games. But the 29-year-old right-hander issued a two-out walk to Tony Kemp in the fifth before allowing an infield single to Marcus Semien, and with Graveman's pitch count at 96, Servais called in Misiewicz.

Four pitches later, Laureano lifted a three-run homer to center field, with two of those runs charged to Graveman. It was a tough way to go for Graveman, who is still feeling his way back from a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery and is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in two starts.

More alarming to Graveman is a neck issue that cropped up midway through his previous start in Houston and hampered his ability to fully extend on some of his pitches. His fastball velocity was still in the 93-95 mph range and he battled well against his former A’s teammates. But he said he’ll have tests on Monday to see if doctors can diagnose the problem, which is something he’s also dealt with in the past at times.

“Halfway through the Houston start, it kind of gave me some trouble,” he said. “This week was OK, but getting out and competing, just trying to bear down and make pitches, you grit your teeth. I’ve been told it can’t get any worse, so hopefully it’ll heal up. I’ve seen a lot of doctors for it, but we’ll continue to move forward and hopefully get some answers."

The six-man Mariners rotation allowed 25 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings for a 10.55 ERA in its first time through, but Marco Gonzales, Taijuan Walker, Yusei Kikuchi and Graveman have combined for a 0.75 ERA with two earned runs, 26 strikeouts and six walks in 24 innings in their second go-round.