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Seattle Mariners

Julio Rodriguez picked off to end 9th-inning rally as Mariners drop series to Cubs

By Adam Jude Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Julio Rodriguez stood on first base with his hands up in the air in disbelief as home plate umpire Bill Miller said, “after the review, the call on the field is overturned and the runner is out.”

That is how the Mariners ended Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Cubs at T-Mobile Park with Rodriguez getting picked off at first base by Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay.

With two outs, Cal Raleigh singled to right field to keep Seattle’s minimal victory hopes alive. Rodriguez, who was given the day off as a mental break, was inserted as a pinch-runner.

He had every intention of stealing second base so he could move into scoring position for Luke Raley.

But Alzolay and the Cubs also knew Rodriguez was planning to steal second. On a 1-1 count, they caught him leaning. Alzolay made quick pickoff move to first and Michael Busch applied a quick tag. First base ump Doug Eddings called Rodriguez safe. But Cubs manager Craig Counsell challenged the call.

It was an odd and frustrating end to the series finale.

The Mariners concluded yet another losing series and another game with minimal runs scored in front of a crowd in their home stadium that was cheering more for their opponent than them.

It’s the seventh time they’ve scored two runs or fewer with six of those games coming at T-Mobile Park. They have a 1-6 record in those contests.

Down a run going into the seventh and eighth innings, the Mariners failed to tie the game despite having the first two hitters of each inning reach base.

In the seventh, Dylan Moore was hit by a pitch and Mitch Garver worked a walk off right-hander Yency Almonte. But Cal Raleigh’s hard drive to center was caught by Cody Bellinger. The Cubs ended the inning when Raley hit into a double play to end the inning.

In the eighth inning, veteran reliever Hector Neris walked Josh Rojas and J.P. Crawford to start the inning. Neris struck out Mitch Haniger, walked Jorge Polanco and then got Ty France to hit into another inning-ending double play.

Well, at least they didn’t strike out?

The Mariners didn’t get the dominant performance from Luis Castillo that they’ve yet to see this season. But they did get a better version of Castillo than in his previous three starts in 2024. The right-hander delivered a “quality start,” pitching six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with no walks and a season-high nine strikeouts.

The costliest of those hits came in the fourth inning. After Dansby Swanson led off with a double, Busch, who had homered in each of his past three games, made it four games in a row with a long ball. He sent a 2-2 changeup that leaked back over the middle of the plate over the wall in right-center for his fifth homer of the season.

After being shut out and stymied by Cubs starter Javier Assad for the first five innings, managing just two hits and striking out five times, the Mariners finally generated some offense in the sixth inning. With two outs and Crawford having reached on a single to center, Polanco clubbed his second home run of the season. Assad left a 1-0 cutter in the middle of the plate and Polanco didn’t miss it, hitting a deep fly ball well over the wall in right field.