Walk-off HR a ‘huge relief’ for Seattle Mariners DH Mitch Garver

Apr 30, 2024, 5:09 PM | Updated: 9:20 pm

Seattle Mariners Mitch Garver...

Mitch Garver of the Seattle Mariners hits a walk-off home run during a 2024 game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The start to Mitch Garver’s tenure with the Seattle Mariners has been frustrating for the right-handed slugger.

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Through his first 24 games, Garver is slashing a meager .143/.256/.273 with three home runs and seven RBIs. Not exactly what Garver or the Mariners envisioned when he signed a two-year, $24 million deal in the offseason to become the team’s primary designed hitter, a position the Mariners have mightily struggled at since the departure of Nelson Cruz after the 2018 season.

With one swing of the bat – and an 80-grade bat flip that followed – Garver appeared to let some of that frustration go, belting a walk-off two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night. Just how good did that moment feel for Garver? He joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday for a conversation about that and more.

“It felt good to have that moment,” Garver said. “I had a few home runs before this, I’ve been collecting a few knocks here and there, but to have that moment where I could lift the team up and prove to help us win a ball game was a huge relief for me. And it was just that moment where I could take a deep breath and be like, ‘all right, I’m a Mariner. Let’s let this thing ride out.’”

Garver came to Seattle with a track record of hitting at a high level. He mashed 31 home runs in just 93 games in 2019 with an OPS of .995 and an OPS+ of 157, both career bests on his way to winning the Silver Slugger at designated hitter, which he split with Cruz. He also posted an OPS of .870 or higher during the 2021 and 2023 seasons. So hitting has never been a big issue during his career. Like other offseason additions Jorge Polanco and Luke Raley, it just hasn’t been a quick start at the plate for Garver in a Mariners uniform.

“There’s always this desire to try to prove why the Mariners acquired you,” Garver said of joining a new team. “You want to make the fanbase happy, you want to make the team happy, you want to do as much as you can for your teammates and coaches and clubhouse staff, and you always want to make a great impression. I think trying to do more than just who you are as a baseball player is a little detrimental at times.”

Garver said the key to getting past that is trying to “reel it back” and remember there’s a reason a team put in the effort to acquire you. Does Garver think Monday’s clutch home run is going to be what gets his bat back to normal? It’s not that simple.

“This game is such a process,” he said. “Some days you have it, some days you don’t. You could go out and get three, four hits and you can go (hitless) the next day. It’s such a brutal game and it keeps you humble. I’d like to say that things are going to start clicking here and I’ll continue to hit the ball hard and maybe I’ll find a few holes and that average will start ticking up a little bit. But at the end of the day, we’re playing winning baseball right now.”

Speaking of winning baseball, the Mariners entered Tuesday sitting atop the AL West at 16-13 with one-game lead over Garver’s former team. The veteran DH thinks the team is just beginning to tap in to its potential.

“We’re in first place and we haven’t even peaked yet,” Garver said. “The pitching staff has been holding us together, but the offense is going to turn around. We’re going to score some runs, we’re going to strike out less, but there’s going to be some ebbs and flows throughout the season. I think we’re in a pretty good spot if our heads are above water right now and we’re not hitting like we know how.”

Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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