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Seattle Mariners

Julio Rodriguez hits walk-off single in 10th as M’s rally to beat Red Sox

Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off single against Boston on Saturdayin Seattle.  (Getty Images)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

The Mariners “explosion” of offense and runs in the bottom of the 10th inning that carried them to an improbable 4-3 walk-off victory featured one thing missing from so many scoreless innings in this young season — a strikeout.

It all ended with Julio Rodriguez’s crisp line drive single to right-center, allowing Josh Rojas to trot home as the game-winning run and a wild celebration at second base.

The large portion of the crowd of 32,149 that remained at T-Mobile Park for the bonus baseball got to see the Mariners cap off an unlikely comeback victory and Rodriguez’s first walk-off hit in his big league career.

Of all his memorable hits, he’d never had a walk-off?

“Oh, I know, trust me,” he said. “I know. I feel like as a baseball player, we always want to come through in that situation for the team. It felt pretty good to be able to finally have my first one to be able to help the team in that situation right there.”

The Mariners expect plenty more.

On a night where they looked listless at the plate, striking out 12 times, most of them coming on breaking pitches, the Mariners didn’t go down swinging or looking in that final inning.

It was an ode to old timers who love to say, “good things happen when you put the ball in play.

Things looked dire when the Red Sox scored two runs in the top of the 10th to grab a 3-1 lead. The Mariners had mustered all off two runs in its last 18 innings of baseball.

With automatic runner Ty France on second base, Luke Raley looped a broken. bat single into shallow left field off lefty Joely Rodriguez. Following the odd baseball, Luis Urias’ hard line drive up the middle was caught for the first and only out of the inning. Similar to Raley, getting a rare at-bat against a left-handed pitcher, the left-handed hitting Josh Rojas lofted a soft fly ball into shallow right center for a single. Boston right fielder Wilyer Abreu misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to move up a base.

The extra 90 feet loomed large when Raley, running on contact, easily beat the throw home from second baseman Emmanuel Valdez on J.P. Crawford soft infield ground ball to tie the game.

It brought Julio Rodriguez to the plate. The young superstar, who had struggled in situations like this last season, showed a veteran’s patience, working a 3-1 count against right-hander Justin Slaten.

Seattle got a strong start from Logan Gilbert. The lanky right-hander pitched seven strong innings, giving up one run hit on four hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.

But that one run allowed was one too many to win the game in regulation.

The Mariners’ picked up their only run off Crawford in the first inning. J.P. Crawford led off with a bunt single to third base, advancing to second on Pablo Reyes’ wayward throw to first base on the play. It looked like Crawford might get stranded after Trevor Story made a fantastic slid stop and throw to first on Julio Rodriguez’ hard ground ball to the hole and Jorge Polanco flied out to deep center. But with a 2-2 count, Mitch Haniger drove a hanging breaking ball up the middle for a single that scored Crawford for a 1-0 lead.

Given that early lead, Gilbert cruised through the first four innings, allowing just two baes runners.

In the fifth inning, Ceddanne Rafaela led off with a double to left-center. With his plus speed, Rafaela was able to tag up and advance to third on Emmanuel Valdez’s deep fly ball to left field. With one out and the infield playing on the grass, Reyes hit a hard ground ball that was stopped by a diving J.P. Crawford. But given Rafaela’s speed, he had no play at home and could only flip the ball to first base for the second out of the inning.