'It felt amazing': Back-to-back-to-back jacks spark 'W'

J-Rod, Winker, Suárez lead charge as Mariners power past A's

June 22nd, 2022

OAKLAND -- It was nothing short of sweltering at Tuesday's series opener in Oakland. Manager Scott Servais remarked before the game that it was probably the warmest weather he had ever experienced at the Coliseum, and the thermometer was still running high at first pitch, registering a cool 92 degrees.

You would expect the ball to fly out of the stadium on a night like that. It took a while, but the Mariners eventually got the home run party started in an 8-2 win over the A's. They hit four long balls in the game -- including back-to-back-to-back homers in the seventh inning from Julio Rodríguez, and turning a nailbiter into a romp.

It was the first time in nearly 18 years that the Mariners had hit three straight home runs, and just the fourth time it has happened in franchise history. The last time was Aug. 27, 2004, when Miguel Olivo, José López and Hiram Bocachica went back-to-back-to-back against Zack Greinke.

Tuesday's back-to-back-to-back power show combined for a projected distance of 1,295 feet, per Statcast.

Rodríguez was up first. He faced A's reliever Austin Pruitt with one on and two outs. He hammered the second pitch he saw -- and he seemed to know it would go out right away. Rodríguez slowly trotted to first, watching the ball fly out of the park at 111 mph off the bat, before flipping his bat and rounding the bases.

"I think I got jammed a little bit," he said, unable to suppress a laugh. "It's really hard to hit, and whenever you get one like that, I feel like all you've got to do is enjoy it."

Then it was Winker's turn. Not to be outdone, he smoked a four-seamer from Pruitt to dead center, collecting his second hit and RBI of the night with his daughter watching from the stands.

Suárez didn't waste any time. He was in attack mode from the moment he stepped in the box, and he drove the first offering from Pruitt over the center-field wall, completing the trifecta.

All of a sudden, on just four pitches, the Mariners had a commanding 7-0 lead.

It wasn't easy to keep the ball in the park that evening, but starter Marco Gonzales managed it pretty well, tossing seven strong innings and only giving up a two-run shot to Oakland rookie Nick Allen.

"I didn't really, completely," Gonzales said of keeping the ball down. "But I didn't think it was jumping, honestly. We got a lot of weak contact, just pitching to contact."

In a way, everything came together for the Mariners after a stretch in which nothing was going right at the same time.

"We finally lined it up," Servais said. "We pitched, and we got some big hits. We needed one of those games.

"We haven't seen that all year, so I was as excited as the guys were."

The Mariners were desperately in need of this kind of output from the lineup. Entering the game, they had been held scoreless for 21 straight innings -- and that streak continued through the first two innings on Tuesday, until Taylor Trammell finally broke it up with a solo shot in the third inning.

Gonzales may know the Mariners' offensive struggles better than anyone. Though he's been one of Seattle's more consistent starters, Tuesday's win was just his fourth this season. In 14 starts, Gonzales has pitched with three or more runs behind him just six times, including Tuesday.

"Nobody's gotten a lot of run support from us recently, so any run support was good run support tonight," Servais said. "We'll take it."

Even better, Seattle was able to follow through and get the big hit -- something that has eluded the club lately. Situational hitting has been a hot topic in the Mariners clubhouse, and it looks like that focus is beginning to pay off: The back-to-back-to-back blasts in the seventh all came with two outs.

"We'll take 'em with any outs," Servais said. "We need to build on it. It was a good day to hit, a little warmer over here today, and the ball was jumping a bit."

The Mariners can expect much more normal temperatures in Oakland for the rest of the series. The unusually warm weather may be behind them, but the Mariners hope that Tuesday's opener was the turning point in which they heat up for good.

"It felt amazing, honestly," Rodríguez said, "just seeing everybody getting it going and scoring some runs like that.

"We just got to show what we're capable of, what we have within us."