SEATTLE -- It was a toss-up which was better, the over-the-wall catch by Kyle Lewis or the exuberant reaction by the Mariners' rookie center fielder.
Seattle is dealing with heavy smoke from the West Coast wildfires, even with the roof closed, as it played both games of a makeup doubleheader against the A’s.
The play brought back memories of Ken Griffey Jr., who stole his share of home runs playing center field for the Mariners and unleashed a similar joyous reaction after robbing Jesse Barfield of the Yankees in a 1990 game in the Bronx.
“That’s a humbling comparison,” Lewis said. “A center fielder being able to make plays is in of itself a great moment. To be able to make plays is something I take pride in, especially wearing that Seattle uniform, because we know who the legend is out there. So to go out there and make plays is big for me.
“Hopefully I can just continue to build on that defensively, to be a solid, reliable defender, and then as well at the plate, because that guy did it all. It’s cool to see those comparisons. I take them in stride and try to keep it going so I can continue to write my story. Everybody has their own story to write, and I’ve got mine.”
The 25-year-old Lewis, a leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year honors this season, had already delivered a two-run home run -- his 10th of the season -- and then a go-ahead bases-loaded walk in a 6-5 comeback victory in Game 1.
Lewis then flashed his glove with the spectacular catch to help get spot starter Jimmy Yacabonis out of a bases-loaded jam for a young Mariners team that is trying to catch Houston for the second playoff spot in the AL West. Though Seattle wound up losing the second game, it didn’t take away from the club's young center fielder’s efforts.
“When you have that type of talent and it’s playing out on the big stage, it’s awesome to see,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I’m excited to continue to watch him grow over the next few years.”
After getting off to a scorching start at the plate this year, Lewis has seen his numbers drop a bit as he went just 6-for-46 with two homers over his previous 14 games. But the 2016 first-round Draft choice went 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and two walks in the doubleheader, and he is hitting .295/.390/.494 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs on the year.
“Kyle’s at-bats have continued to be really good, just not a whole lot of luck lately,” Servais said. “You need a little luck in this game once in a while, and it comes in streaks. He hit the ball good today. He’s having a great season. He should be Rookie of the Year. We have some work yet to do, but he’s been phenomenal all season long.”