Passan: What Mariners’ big comeback win shows the value of

May 21, 2024, 11:31 AM | Updated: 11:35 am

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Yankees 2024...

Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners hits a ninth-inning RBI single against the Yankees on May 20. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

For the second time in three nights, the Seattle Mariners rallied for a late-inning comeback win.

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After mustering just three hits through the first eight innings, Seattle plated four runs in the top of the ninth to stun the New York Yankees with a 5-4 victory Monday night in the Bronx. Even more shocking was that it came against standout closer Clay Holmes, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in any of his previous 20 appearances this season.

The Mariners’ four-run ninth was sparked by a pair of infield singles from Julio Rodríguez and Luke Raley, the latter of which led to a throwing error that plated the first run. Mitch Haniger added an RBI single, Dominic Canzone tied the game with a deep sacrifice fly and Ty France drove in the go-ahead run with an opposite-field single.

During his weekly appearance on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan gave his reaction Tuesday morning to the Mariners’ dramatic comeback win.

“Honestly, it was lucky,” Passan said. “But I’d rather be lucky than good when you’re facing Clay Holmes, because there are a lot of good hitters who have gone up against Clay Holmes this year and have walked back to the dugout shaking their head. It’s OK to get wins when you hit the ball 55 mph sometimes. Over the course of a 162-game season, if you’re gonna be a good team, you’re going to get some of those.

“And I think it’s just a testament to putting the bat on the ball. Put the ball in play and good things happen. This is a team that strikes out a lot, and against a guy who has absolute wipeout nasty stuff, they were able to put the barrel on the ball and good things happened.”

The Mariners’ lineup has been plagued by strikeout issues all season, even after they made a concerted approach this offseason to acquire more contact-oriented hitters. Seattle’s hitters currently have an MLB-high 27.9% strikeout rate, which is nearly two percentage points higher than the next-closest team in the league.

However, the Mariners didn’t strike out in any of their nine plate appearances during their ninth-inning rally, even while facing a closer who entered with a 28.8% strikeout rate. Seattle didn’t necessarily make great contact. In addition to the two infield singles, Haniger’s RBI single was a flare off the end of his bat that had a 75.5 mph exit velocity. Yet, as Passan pointed out, good things can happen simply by putting the ball in play.

“The strikeout thing, it’s a problem,” Passan said. “I think it’s a real problem with this team. … They are the outlier in terms of swinging and missing and ending at-bats on strikeouts, which makes what they did last night even more imperative to say to themselves, ‘Hey guys, we just beat the unhittable closer of baseball this year. Maybe this should be a priority. Maybe this should be a focus. Maybe this is something that we should put at the forefront, because look at what we were able to do.'”

Listen to the full conversation with Jeff Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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