BRANDON GUSTAFSON

New Mariners Frazier, Winker, Rodríguez react to ‘electric’ home atmosphere

Apr 16, 2022, 10:08 AM | Updated: 10:18 am
Mariners Julio Rodriguez...
Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners reacts after his single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at T-Mobile Park. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ 2022 home opener couldn’t have gone better for the club.

Frazier, Gonzales lead Mariners past Astros 11-1

After a 3-4 road trip where the team dealt with some extreme weather and cold bats, the Mariners returned home Friday night in front of a sellout crowd and put up 11 runs against the defending American League champion Houston Astros in a resounding 11-1 victory. On top of the bats coming alive, Marco Gonzales rebounded from a tough two-inning, six-run outing last weekend to toss seven innings of one-run ball against Houston.

I mentioned that sellout crowd, and that was certainly a highlight of the game for the team, especially some of Seattle’s newest players.

Three guys who played their first home game (or game in general) at T-Mobile Park all contributed to the win in Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker and rookie Julio Rodríguez. Here’s a bit of what those three had to say after the game about their performances and the atmosphere that the sellout crowd provided.

Adam Frazier

In a game that sees a pitcher toss seven innings of one-run ball against a very good team as well as the eight of nine hitters in the victor’s lineup picking up a hit, it can be hard to pinpoint a player of the game.

But if that distinction goes to any member of the Mariners’ lineup, it’s Frazier, who picked up four hits and four RBIs while scoring twice. Two of Frazier’s hits went for extra bases, and he ended the night a home run short of the cycle.

Frazier was happy to see some hits fall after a slow start to the year through the season’s first seven games.

“Honestly, I’ve been searching,” he said. “I got a couple to fall early and then, I don’t know, waited them out I guess the last couple at-bats and got the barrel to the ball. It felt pretty good and hopefully I can build off of it.”

This was just the second game Frazier has ever played at T-Mobile Park, and due both to his performance as well as the energy the sellout crowd brought, it’s a night he won’t soon forget.

“It was a lot of fun. The crowd was electric tonight. It really helps us out,” he said. “I guess we were able to give them a few hits to build off of and Marco did his thing, and that was a lot of fun, too. But yeah, (the fans) brought the electricity tonight and that was a lot of fun to play in front of.”

“That’s what you dream about doing is playing in front of how ever many it is. That’s what you get up for and locked in for,” he added.

Jesse Winker

Not only had Winker never played a game at T-Mobile Park prior to Friday night, he’d never been to the city of Seattle.

Safe to say Winker, who picked up two hits, two walks, an RBI and a run scored, had a memorable first night in Seattle.

“That was a tremendous atmosphere. It’s a special place and you can tell that,” he said. “It’s my first day ever in Seattle and you can tell that it’s (special). It’s really, really cool to be a part of it and I’m really happy to be here.”

Winker is hoping that the energy from Friday’s crowd is a regular occurrence throughout the 2022 season.

“I know it’s just our first game here, but fans can really carry you through a season, especially as it gets going and games start stacking and months start happening,” Winker said. “The fans and their energy that they bring, it can really carry you and can really help you build momentum. What happened tonight, that was a special atmosphere. (Tonight was) probably my favorite atmosphere game I’ve played in. That was really cool.”

Winker joined the Mariners roughly one month ago from Cincinnati. He said that being in Seattle and getting that first home game out of the way will let him “officially start settling in.”

“Up until then there’s just anticipation of what to expect. It’s a new city, it’s on a side of the country that I’ve never lived before,” he said. “But everybody who’s a part of this organization my whole baseball career, and that just shows the kind of people (who are) here. They’ve welcomed me and that’s what’s really helped me and my family the most is how easy the transition has been. Now I feel like I finally got the first day out of the way and we can just keep going forward and I can learn this city and figure out all my coffee shops and places I want to eat now.”

Julio Rodríguez

Rodríguez had quite the eventful day on Friday.

Not only was it the rookie’s first home opener, but he had the honor of catching the ceremonial first pitch from soon-to-be Mariners Hall of Famer – and eventual Baseball Hall of Famer – Ichiro Suzuki who, in full uniform, fired a bullet to Rodríguez behind the plate.

“That was probably the hardest first pitch I’ve seen in my life, to be honest. That was very cool,” Rodríguez said.

What did the legendary Mariners right fielder tell the rookie after the pitch?

“He just told me, ‘Let’s go.’ And I told him I want to go,” Rodriguez said.

So what was it like playing at T-Mobile Park for the very first time?

“It was amazing,” Rodríguez said. “I really loved the atmosphere with all the people there. It was even better than I imagined, honestly.”

Rodriguez was at T-Mobile Park late last year during the Mariners’ playoff push as he received the Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” award. So how did the atmosphere on Friday compare to that of the atmosphere late last year?

“It was kind of like it, honestly. It had the same vibe to it,” he said. “It was a packed stadium, (had) the whole vibe going. It was a great feeling playing here.”

Rodríguez wasted no time picking up his first hit at his home stadium, smacking a single to left field in the second inning. Rodriguez also scored a run and worked a walk in the game.

“It felt great. It felt great to just take that out of the way. It felt really good,” he said. “(To do that) in front of the home crowd, it was really cool.”

Rodríguez also had one of the best seats in the house for Gonzales’ fantastic night.

“I told him the other day that whenever he’s on the spot, he looks amazing from center field,” Rodríguez said. “How he kept hitting his spots all the time and making it tough for the hitters, I told him he’s amazing. It’s pretty good to see.”

Servais: ‘If it all comes together,’ M’s will be ‘hard to beat’

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