Relive the Mariners' five best wins of '19

November 27th, 2019

SEATTLE -- The Mariners didn’t win as many games as they hoped to in 2019, but they managed some memorable moments and began putting pieces in place for the future.

Here are the club’s top five wins in ’19 and what those victories could mean going forward.

1) Kyle Lewis arrives with a bang
Sept. 15, 2019: Rookie sparks biggest comeback win

Lewis hit his fourth homer in his first six games in the Majors, a three-run eighth-inning shot that sparked Seattle’s 11-10 win over the White Sox at T-Mobile Park. Trailing 10-5 after seven innings, Lewis led a five-run rally in the eighth to tie it before Tom Murphy drew a bases-loaded walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth. The rookie right fielder went 3-for-6 with a double in addition to his 420-foot bomb to center.

What does it tell us about 2020?
Lewis wound up becoming the first player in MLB history to hit six homers in his first 10 career games and the 24-year-old’s ability to keep his cool and deliver in the clutch -- as he did against the White Sox -- served notice that the 2016 first-round Draft choice is ready to compete for an everyday outfield job despite never playing above Double-A before his late-season promotion as a September call-up.

2) J.P. makes some magic
July 27, 2019: Great glove play leads to walk-off victory

Shortstop came up with the defensive play of the year, making a spectacular diving stop and off-balance throw to end the top of the ninth and set up Mallex Smith’s walk-off single in the bottom of the frame in a 3-2 win over the Tigers in Seattle. Catcher Tom Murphy also aided the comeback win with a two-run homer in the seventh to tie things up.

What does it tell us about 2020?
Crawford figures prominently in the Mariners’ future plans as the anchor up the middle and his strong glovework over the final four months was a huge positive for a team that struggled defensively prior to his callup from Triple-A Tacoma. Murphy’s emergence behind the plate -- after being acquired in a minor trade just as the regular season got underway -- was another big plus, and greatly solidifies that key position going forward.

3) Seager launches three homers
Aug. 13, 2019: He needed help, but veteran rips trio of long balls

Third baseman Kyle Seager became the 13th Mariner ever to hit three home runs in a game -- and the first since Jose Lopez in 2010 -- in an 11-6 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park. Seager hit a solo shot in the fourth, a three-run blast in the sixth and a two-run clout in the ninth, tying his career high with six RBIs. The ninth-inning homer was aided by Tigers center fielder Niko Goodrum, who had the ball momentarily in his glove before having it pop out -- and over the fence -- as he braced for a collision with left fielder Brandon Dixon.

What does it tell us about 2020?
Seager is the only player remaining from when Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto first arrived in 2016, and Seager hopes to carry over his strong second half in ’19 to be one of the veteran leaders for the young, rebuilding club. Seager missed the first two months of last season with a left hand injury and then struggled badly in his first month back. But he was the Mariners’ best hitter in the second half once he got rolling.

4) Leake flirts with perfection
July 19, 2019: Veteran right-hander just misses history

Mike Leake put together the Mariners’ best pitching performance of the year in a 10-0 win over the Angels -- the same Angels who had thrown a no-hitter against Leake one week earlier -- and narrowly missed tossing the 24th perfect game in MLB history. Leake sailed through eight innings before giving up a leadoff single to Luis Rengifo in the ninth. The 31-year-old then walked Kevan Smith, but he retired his final three hitters to record his second career shutout.

What does it tell us about 2020?
Not much for the Mariners, who traded Leake to the D-backs 12 days later. The club plans to give more opportunities to young prospects like Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn next year.

5) The hottest bats in MLB
April 11, 2019: A Vogey bomb caps historic start

The Mariners went 13-2 to open the year, their best start in franchise history, and they got there with an impressive offense that broke an MLB record by homering in their 15th straight game in a 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Royals at Kaufmann Stadium. Dee Gordon broke the record with his sixth-inning solo shot, but it took a 427-foot line drive bolt by Daniel Vogelbach in the 10th to cap the dramatic come-from-behind win after Mitch Haniger’s two-out, two-run triple in the ninth. The Mariners wound up homering in 20 straight games, though their early winning percentage quickly faded.

What does it tell us about 2020?
The results were certainly brighter when Vogelbach was on a roll and Haniger was healthy. Those two will need to show they’re still part of the plans next spring after Vogelbach faded from his All-Star first half and Haniger spent the final four months on the injured list.

Honorable mention: Kikuchi cruises in Toronto
Aug. 18, 2019: Two-hit shutout in Toronto

Yusei Kikuchi had his struggles in 2019, but the 28-year-old rookie from Japan was lights out in a 7-0 victory over the Blue Jays in a late-season start at Rogers Centre. Kikuchi needed just 96 pitches to record his first MLB complete game, with eight strikeouts, one walk and two hits allowed. And the Mariners provided plenty of offense with home runs by Seager, Murphy, Austin Nola and Keon Broxton.

What does it tell us about 2020?
This was the Kikuchi the Mariners are hoping to see more of. He relaxed and let it fly against an aggressive young Toronto lineup. With so many adjustments pitching in a new country in his first year in the Majors, Kikuchi seemed to lose confidence and some of his natural pitching rhythm during a rough second half. It would be a huge boost for the Mariners if Kikuchi can consistently find the easy mid-90s fastball and pace that were evident that Sunday afternoon as they put together their rotation going forward.