SEATTLE — The stamp he left on this week’s series has Julio Rodríguez in a strong position to win consecutive AL Rookie of the Month Awards, perhaps quietly leading to stronger All-Star consideration as voting heats up. But it’s the looming possibility of a two-game suspension that has heightened the urgency of how much the Mariners have needed him.
Nearly every hitter chipped in during Seattle’s 9-3 win over Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, yet Rodríguez had the most dramatic contribution — a towering, 431-foot homer that landed above both bullpens and into the upper deck beyond left field. It was a two-run shot as part of a six-spot that the Mariners put up in the fourth inning that helped them win this three-game series.
Seattle has now won seven of its past nine and will need to go at least 11-5 in order to reach the All-Star break above .500, a record that will come with the sky-high challenge of accomplishing without Rodríguez, Jesse Winker and J.P. Crawford for part of that stretch if their suspensions from the melee in Anaheim are upheld. Wednesday was another big reminder why, even with key contributions from the bottom of the order.
Rodríguez dug out a hanging slider from Nick Vespi in a 2-1 count and pummeled it 109.3 mph, watched his 12th of the year sail with a wide grin and then flipped his bat down the first-base line, tomahawk style. It was a part of the park that only the Majors’ elite right-handed sluggers typically reach. Rodríguez is just 21 years old, but Wednesday’s homer was another tangible token to his already elite power and bat speed.
“I think the whole organization, the Seattle fan base, everything — this guy is some kind of special,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’re watching it play out before our eyes. That’s a long way to home run in this ballpark. You don’t see it too often. He’s been right on everything all series.”
Rodríguez also had a 109 mph sacrifice fly in the second…