Shed Long Jr., Mariners seek encore vs. Rockies

MLB

Shed Long Jr. enjoyed it so much the first time, he did it again.

Long hit the deciding home run for the second consecutive game as the Seattle Mariners defeated the visiting Colorado Rockies 2-1 Tuesday night.

The infielder/outfielder will go for three in row when the teams wrap up their two-game interleague series Wednesday afternoon in Seattle.

Long hit a grand slam in the 10th inning Sunday to give the Mariners a 6-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. He broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning Tuesday, sending a pitch from Colorado right-hander Tyler Kinley over the 401-foot sign in center field.

“Shed Long’s got it rolling,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s hard to hit a ball out to dead center here and know it’s gone the minute you hit it. He certainly got all of that one.”

Long had a chance for another grand slam in the fifth inning Tuesday when he came up in a scoreless game with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out that time but made up for it in the eighth.

It’s been a long journey for Long.

He impressed the Mariners enough during a 42-game stint as a rookie in 2019 — batting .263 with five home runs and 15 RBIs — that he was given the starting job at second base last year. However, Long hit just .171 in the pandemic-shortened season and finished the campaign on the injured list with a stress fracture in his right shin.

After undergoing surgery, he wasn’t ready when spring training opened this year, so he was placed on the 60-day IL.

Long was activated when the Mariners sent top prospect Jarred Kelenic back to Triple-A Tacoma for some more seasoning earlier this month.

Long has played both at second base and left field and has hits in seven of his past eight games to raise his average to .250.

“I’m trying to come in and be the best version of me that I can be every day no matter what. Not just the 2019 version,” Long said. “I’m trying to be the best version of me. I want to be better than the 2019 version.”

Long and the Mariners are scheduled to face right-hander German Marquez (5-6, 4.26 ERA) on Wednesday. Marquez is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against Seattle.

The Mariners will counter with left-hander Justus Sheffield (5-6, 5.65 ERA), who pitched six scoreless innings and got the victory in his only previous appearance against Colorado, on Aug. 9, 2020.

Rockies leadoff hitter Raimel extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a sixth-inning single Tuesday. It is the longest active streak in the major leagues.

“I feel great — I have a lot of confidence,” Tapia said through a translator. “That’s the most important part, and the results are there.”

Tapia ranks fifth in the National League with a .307 batting average.

“He’s been awesome,” Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon said. “I’ve seen this every step of the way (through the minors). But I think even now in the big leagues, it’s the best it’s ever been.”

–Field Level Media

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