SEATTLE – Omar Narvaez loves his former Chicago White Sox teammates. He also loves beating them.
The catcher hit a game-ending home run in the 10th inning and helped Felix Hernandez through his best outing of the year to lift the Seattle Mariners over his old team 2-1.
Narvaez spent a few minutes in the sixth inning joshing with his former teammates at second base while they waited for a pitching change and they looked like kids on the diamond, cutting up and hand-slapping. But when it came time to put them away, he was cold-blooded about it.
“It’s a game, so we’re still friends out of the game,” Narvaez said. “But during the game we’ve still got a job to do. We’re trying to do good, they’re still trying to good. We’re friends, we’re competing.”
Narvaez’s home run bounced off the top of the right-field wall and back into the park where a White Sox outfielder caught it. The umpires conferred as the Mariners celebrated and confirmed the home run call without calling New York for an opinion.
Narvaez said he didn’t watch the replay on the big board: “I did not. I didn’t want to.”
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he did not appeal the call because of the crew chief review that concluded it was a home run and clear evidence that Narvaez touched home plate.
“So there was no need for me to waste our time of getting everybody back out there and doing the appeal,” Renteria said.
Rookie Shed Long also hit a solo home run in the game to help Seattle snap a two-game losing streak.
Hernandez cruised through the first six innings with little trouble, retiring 10 straight batters in the third through sixth innings. The former Cy Young winner was incredibly efficient through most of the five-hit outing, not throwing more than 12 pitches in an inning until the seventh.
Abreu led off that inning by threading a single between diving third baseman Kyle Seager and shortstop J.P. Crawford and Yoan Moncada doubled to threaten Hernandez for the first time.
Two batters later James McCann battled Hernandez for a nine-pitch walk to load the bases. Hernandez asked to stay in the game after a mound visit.
“With younger pitchers, yeah, (you might pull them),” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Felix has earned the right to stay out there with everything he’s done here. When he’s having a game like that tonight, it’s kind of his game, and I’m happy to do it. He certainly earned the right to be out there tonight.”
Hernandez induced a groundball from rookie Zack Collins. The Mariners got McCann at second, but Collins just beat the double-play throw by a step for a 1-1 tie.
Hernandez got out of the inning by forcing a pop out from pinch-hitter Ryan Goins. But the 23-pitch inning ended his night. He struck out four and walked one in what is likely his penultimate home start with the Mariners. His best performance of the season came five days after his worst when he gave up 11 runs in two-plus innings to the Astros in a 21-1 loss.
“I needed that one so bad,” Hernandez said. “I felt really good. I was mixing up my pitches, my changeup is back, I had good command of my fastball. That was as good as it’s been in a while. . The last two were bad, so I needed that one. Especially here at home.”
White Sox pitchers also were effective. Starter Dylan Cease was done in by a high pitch count, reaching 106 pitches in the fifth. But he got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning with his fifth strikeout and held the Mariners to Long’s home run on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Four relievers combined to keep the Mariners off the board until the 10th when Narvaez smashed an 0-1 pitch from Alex Colome (4-4). Matt Magill (5-2) struck out two in the 10th for the win.
Renteria brought in Colome with the idea he’d get them through to the 11th, when the heart of their order was due up.
“All I was trying to do was keep us there and it didn’t work,” Renteria said. “(Narvaez) is a good hitter. He got a pitch he could handle and hit it out of the ballpark.”
Seattle fans finally got a chance to celebrate former player Ichiro Suzuki on Saturday. The Mariners bestowed the Franchise Achievement Award on the former American League MVP and rookie of the year in a ceremony before the game that was attended by Hall of Famers and former teammates Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez.
Suzuki, now a special assistant to Mariners Chairman John Stanton, played 14 years for the Mariners in two stints. He retired following a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics in Japan at the start of this season after 28 years at the top levels of major league baseball and the Nippon Baseball League.
Suzuki spoke to fans in English, a very rare occurrence during his time in the U.S. He joked that he was nervous at the start of his speech and told fans he was disappointed he didn’t get to celebrate his final game in Seattle with them.
“When I came to Seattle in `01, no position player had every come from Japan,” Suzuki told the crowd. “The one you got was 27, small, skinny and unknown. You had every reason not to accept me. However, you welcomed me with open arms and never stopped, even when I left and came back.”
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