We’ve all been waiting to watch Julio Rodriguez take the field for the Mariners. From the Dominican ball, the Minors, the Olympics, and now with the Big League club. We were all watching with our utmost attention waiting for him to do something special. It took a while, but it was 100% worth it.
Before I get into how Julio Rodriguez did, I wanna throw a shoutout to Logan Gilbert. After a first-inning home run by the Twins, Gilbert would settle down and end up throwing five strong innings, allowing just one walk, three hits, while striking out 7. After watching Robbie Ray pitch quite well in the opener, Gilbert’s outing made Mariners fans feel very confident seeing him step up as a solid #2 pitcher for the Mariners rotation.
Heading into the ninth inning of game two against the Twins, Julio had been struggling. He was 0-7 with five strikeouts and seemed to be a bit antsy at the plate. With some online calling for him to be pinch-hit for (the complete wrong call and utter nonsense), Julio stepped to the plate against Tyler Duffey to lead off the ninth inning.
Julio Rodriguez decided to provide his first career hit at the most opportune moment of the young Mariners season
After seeing five pitches and sitting in a 2-2 count, Julio would rip a ball into the left-center field gap with an exit velocity of 99 mph. He showed off the hustle, sprinting the instant he left the box and making it to second for a clutch double, and the first hit of his major league career.
JP Crawford would move him over on a groundout. Murphy struck out. Then…
Frazier smoked a double to left to score Julio, and France would smack a single into right to score Frazier, giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead. Diego Castillo would come in and get Kiriloff to fly out to center before striking out both Sano and Kepler to end the game, and give the Mariners their second straight one-run win.
The big story, as you can tell, is Julio Rodriguez. Fellow American League rookie stud Bobby Whit Jr. had a go-ahead double in his opening game late on Thursday, setting the stage for comparison and competition for Julio Rodriguez. It took Julio a while, but he managed to equal Whit. Sure, it wasn’t a go-ahead hit, but leading off the ninth with your team down and ripping a double is equally impressive, at least to me.
This could be the thing that Julio keeps in the memory banks. Whenever things are going a little rough, he can call back to the opening series and remember that he had Andres Munoz’s back. It’s just another staple in the insane teamwork and cohesion that they have. It’s easy to see a team get frusturated and quit when a save is blown. Byron Buxton nuked a 101 mph fastball by Munoz in the bottom of the 8th to make it 3-2 Twins. Julio didn’t care, and made sure to let Munoz know he was there for him.
The rest of baseball needs to watch out. Chaos Ball takes no prisoners. With someone like Julio Rodriguez in the mix, it’s just going to make it that much more exciting all season.