CLEVELAND – Julio Rodríguez lifted weights following Friday’s game. He flexed during it.
The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year hit a tiebreaking two-run homer into the teeth of a strong wind as the Seattle Mariners spoiled Cleveland’s home opener, rallying for a 5-3 win over the Guardians.
Rodríguez connected in the sixth inning for the Mariners, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit in their first road game. The 22-year-old Rodríguez hit 28 homers last season while helping Seattle end its 20-year playoff drought.
It was just another big moment for Rodríguez, who has been stacking them in two seasons.
“I don’t think any expectations are unrealistic on Julio,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s a unique player. He likes to play. Yeah, he may have a bad at-bat here or there, but he squares it up with that kind of power and the wind’s blowing, he can hit it out of the ballpark.”
J.P. Crawford hit a pair of RBI doubles off Aaron Civale (1-1) for Seattle, which dropped three of four to Cleveland at home last week.
“It’s big to start this road trip like this,” Crawford said. “The offense picked it up finally, and the bullpen came in and shut the door.”
Josh Bell drove in a run for the Guardians, who went 5-2 in Seattle and Oakland to start the season. But the defending AL Central champions couldn’t hold onto their lead in front of a sellout crowd of 34,821 at Progressive Field.
Down 3-0, the Mariners scored twice in the fifth before scoring three in the sixth while chasing Civale, who held Seattle scoreless over seven innings last week.
Penn Murfee (1-1) pitched one inning as Seattle’s bullpen limited Cleveland to one hit over the final five. Paul Sewald worked the ninth for his first save.
The Mariners finally broke through in the fifth against Civale as Crawford hit an RBI double and Ty France singled home a run to pull Seattle within 3-2.
In the sixth, Crawford tied it with his second double before Rodríguez connected on a 2-2 pitch from Nick Sandlin for his second homer, and the 30th of his career in just 140 games. He reached the plateau faster than any player in Seattle history.
“Sandlin left a breaking ball over to Julio,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “To get one out today, you had to really hit it.”
Bell, who signed a $33 million, two-year contract in free agency, struck out with the bases loaded in the first. He was just 2 for 23 to start the season before hitting an RBI single in the third to make it 2-0.
“I wish I had done it in the first, but it’s good to get the monkey off your back,” Bell said.
Myles Straw gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI single.
The Guardians found ways to overcome their lack of power last season by manufacturing runs any way they could.
The first inning was another example as Cleveland strung together three straight hits before scoring on Logan Gilbert‘s wild pitch.
Cleveland’s José Ramírez has hit safely in all eight games this season, and 13 in a row dating to 2022. … This is where the road begins for the Mariners, who will travel approximately 49,000 miles this season, second only to Oakland among major league teams. … Seattle also played in Cleveland’s first game at Progressive Field in 1994, and was the visitor in 2007 when the opener was played in heavy snow before being called. … Guardians rookie Tim Herrin is the first pitcher in team history to strike out at least nine in his first 4 1/3 innings.
THE BEAT GOES ON
The Guardians honored longtime drummer John Adams, who provided the backbeat for Cleveland baseball for nearly 50 years.
For the opener, the team wore “JA” patches – that featured crossed drum mallets – on their jerseys in tribute to Adams, who died in January.
Adams first brought a large drum he bought for $25 at a garage sale to a game at Municipal Stadium on Aug. 24, 1973. The team also will wear the patch on that day in remembrance of the 50th anniversary.
“He was a fixture, from the old ballpark to come over here,” Francona said. “It’s a really classy gesture.”
Mariners: SS Dylan Moore (left oblique strain) is set to ramp up his rehabilitation Monday by playing in extended games. Servais hopes Moore will make his season debut during Seattle’s next homestand.
Mariners RHP Marco Gonzales makes his second start in a week against Cleveland, which will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill.