Two highly regarded rookies will get an opportunity to pad their home-run totals when the visiting Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics continue their three-game series on Wednesday night.
Seattle’s 21-year-old Julio Rodriguez and Oakland’s 23-year-old Nick Allen homered in Tuesday’s opener, which the Mariners won 8-2.
Rodriguez did more than just homer. He singled twice, scored twice and drove in two runs for the Mariners, who won for the sixth time in their past eight road games.
That stretch bridged a 3-8 homestand during which Rodriguez had just one homer. He now has nine home runs and 32 RBIs for the season.
Seattle’s Ty France joined Rodriguez in the three-hit club in Tuesday’s win, which came two days after a team meeting designed to turn the season around before it got too late.
“We all talked and aired it out, and I think we are in a good spot,” France reported. “We just have to keep trusting in one another to get the job done.”
The Mariners will put their trust in another rookie, right-hander George Kirby (1-2, 3.56), in Wednesday’s rematch. The 2019 first-round pick has gone 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in his past four starts after beginning his career with an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA in his first four outings.
Kirby faced the A’s in his fourth start on May 24. He got a no-decision in a 7-5 home loss, allowing four runs in five innings with a season-best nine strikeouts.
The A’s are expected to counter with their top All-Star candidate, right-hander Paul Blackburn (6-2, 2.26), who is coming off road starts at Cleveland and Boston in which he allowed just one run in 13 1/3 innings.
Blackburn improved to 5-0 on May 25 in a 4-2 win at Seattle, shutting out the Mariners on one hit in 5 1/3 innings. Blackburn is 2-2 lifetime in five starts against them, with a 4.68 ERA.
Blackburn figures to be backed this time around by Allen, who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday and responded with the first home run of his career.
Allen gathered just four hits — two doubles and two singles — in 23 at-bats in two previous stints with the big-league club. He popped out and grounded out in his first two at-bats against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales, before barely scaling the left-center-field wall on his memorable blast in the seventh inning.
The hit produced all the Oakland scoring in the game, and the A’s were able to retrieve the ball.
“It was Oakland, so I wasn’t sure it was going out,” Allen noted afterward, well aware of the RingCentral Coliseum’s pitcher-friendly reputation.
“Yeah, I got the ball,” he continued. “I’ll probably just give it to my parents. I’ll definitely cherish it, but for right now, I’ll keep it in their hands so they can keep it safe.”
–Field Level Media