Mariners and maturing Jarred Kelenic host Blue Jays
Jarred Kelenic’s maturation continues on a daily basis.
The Seattle Mariners’ 22-year-old center fielder was humbled earlier this season in his first trip to the major leagues, batting .096 in 23 games and mired in an 0-for-39 slump when he was sent back to Triple-A Tacoma.
Kelenic returned following the All-Star break and is starting to show why he was considered one of the top five prospects in baseball entering this season.
Kelenic doubled in the third inning Friday and scored on Tom Murphy’s two-run homer, then drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth to bring home the deciding run in a 3-2 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays for the Mariners’ third win in a row.
“He probably would have swung at the first pitch” earlier this season, Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Kelenic. “But that’s how much he’s grown. … You just never know when that light is going to come on for a young player.”
The teams will continue their three-game series Saturday night in Seattle.
Wednesday, Kelenic legged out a double leading off the bottom of the ninth inning and scored the winning run on Luis Torrens’ walk-off hit in a 2-1 victory against visiting Texas.
Since being recalled from Tacoma on July 16, Kelenic is 19-for-93. In his past 12 games, he is batting .268 with two home runs, six RBIs and, perhaps most telling, seven walks. For the season he is batting .153, with five homers and 19 RBIs.
“You know, the more and more I’m around this environment, you kind of have the mindset of, ‘If it doesn’t happen, if I don’t capitalize here, I’ll do it the next at-bat; if I don’t capitalize (again), I’ll do it next one; if I don’t capitalize today, I’ll capitalize tomorrow,'” Kelenic said. “And that’s the fortunate thing while playing every day, is you get so many opportunities that — I think that’s something I struggled with early on when I first came up (in May).
“You know, every at-bat to me was kind of like a life-or-death situation. And now … I’m getting over stuff a lot faster.”
The Blue Jays nearly took the lead in the top of the ninth Friday when they loaded the bases with one out, but Marcus Semien fouled out into a double play, with pinch-runner Breyvic Valera ruled out at the plate following a video review.
“Every angle we looked at it looked safe,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Usually in (our experience), they usually don’t get overturned.”
The Mariners loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth when Luis Torrens’ potential inning-ending double-play grounder went off the glove of pitcher Adam Cimber.
“Everything didn’t go right the whole inning,” Montoyo said.
Saturday’s game will feature a matchup of left-handers in Toronto’s Hyun Jin Ryu (11-5, 3.62 ERA) against Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi (7-6, 3.73). The pair faced off July 1 in Buffalo, N.Y., with the Mariners winning 7-2.
Kikuchi allowed one run — a leadoff homer by Semien in the first — on five hits in seven innings, with six strikeouts. Ryu was tagged for five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings and gave up two homers. That was Ryu’s first career appearance against Seattle; Kikuchi is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two starts against Toronto.
–Field Level Media