At the time, it seemed like an act of desperation.
At the time, the Mariners were past the point of being desperate and knew they couldn’t allow their situation to worsen.
They were struggling to find offense. Ty France, their best hitter, had just been placed on the injured the list. And they were going to lose J.P. Crawford, Jesse Winker and Julio Rodriguez to suspensions for their roles in the brawl with the Angels.
On the morning of June 27, the acquired Carlos Santana and just over $4 million in cash (essentially the remainder of Santana’s 2022 salary) from the Royals in exchange for right-handers Wyatt Mills and Will Fleming.
The 36-year-old switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter was slowly picking up his production after a forgettable first two months of the season.
When the trade was announced, Mariners manager Scott Servais talked about Santana’s professionalism, his ability to work counts and get on base while also providing a strong, calming presence in the clubhouse.
But over the past few days, a rejuvenated Santana, buoyed by the adrenaline of winning baseball and legitimate postseason hopes, has been something more for the Mariners.
On Sunday, Santana’s towering moon ball of a homer to right field in the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the Mariners’ 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
It was the second straight game where Santana, who also hit a solo homer in the second inning, provided the go-ahead homer in late innings to propel to the Mariners to victory. On Saturday night, he hit a two-run homer off All-Star pitcher Alek Manoah in a 2-1 win.
“I think he’s been here 12 days and I think we’re 11-1,” Servais said. “He has added so much to our team, but nothing more than obviously the home run last night and a couple more home runs today.”
His heroics helped the Mariners secure a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays and their eighth consecutive win. The Mariners improved to 45-42 and moved into a tie for the third wild-card spot with Toronto.
After the comeback win Servais started the news conference simply:
“Chaos ball is back,” He said.
Santana understood that a large portion of his value to the Royals and now the Mariners was his experience and his ability to connect with young players. But he’s now in a situation where his production also matters.
“Honestly, it’s different,” Santana said of the switch in teams and situations. “We are playing every day to make it into the playoffs. We were talking about it this morning about how fun it is to make the playoffs and how you have to keep pushing in the second half. It’s a different energy.”
It was Santana’s 18th go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later since 2015. – the most of any player in that span.
Paul Sewald closed out the win with a drama-free 1-2-3 ninth inning, notching his 10th save.
The Mariners take their win streak into a six-game road trip ahead of the All-Star break, with two games in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and a four-game series in Arlington, Texas, against the Rangers, who sit four games behind Seattle in the AL West.
The Nationals (30-58) are last in the NL East and are expected to start Josiah Gray (7-5, 4.14 ERA) against Chris Flexen (5-8, 4.00) and Erick Fedde (5-6, 5.01) against Marco Gonzales (5-9, 3.24).
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