SEATTLE - Julio Rodríguez stood on second base having checked another box on a growing list of accomplishments that are only strengthening an already robust case for rookie of the year.
At this point, it seems like almost a daily occurrence for the 21-year-old to come up with a big moment or set another record with the Seattle Mariners pushing toward a playoff berth.
"I don’t see myself as a rookie. I see myself as a player like anybody else and I’m just happy that I’m being able to deliver for the team any time," Rodriguez said.
Rodríguez hit his fourth leadoff home run of the season, Eugenio Suárez and Carlos Santana both added homers, and the Mariners beat the San Diego Padres 6-1 on Wednesday.
Seattle rebounded quickly from being shut out for the first time in nearly three months and split the brief two-game set. Rodríguez hit the first pitch thrown by San Diego starter Mike Clevinger 385 feet into the left-field bullpen for his 26th home run of the season.
Rodríguez later nabbed his 25th stolen base of the season, making him the third rookie in league history to have at least 25 steals and 25 homers in their first season. But unlike Chris Young in 2007 and Mike Trout in 2012, Rodriguez reached the 25/25 plateau in his debut season. Both Young and Trout reached in the majors late in the previous season, but were still considered rookies.
"For me one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while is when he’s at second base after the 25th stolen base and the crowd is on its feet and they put the thing on the scoreboard, (he) flashes across his chest," Seattle manager Scott Servais said motioning across the front of the Mariners’ jersey. "It’s about the Mariners. That’s Julio Rodríguez."
Suárez’s homer was his 31st of the season, the second most in franchise history by a third baseman. His two-run shot in the first inning gave Seattle a 3-0 lead. Suárez has 15 homers since Aug. 1.
Santana then provided some separate with a three-run homer in the fifth inning after Clevinger (5-7) hit Rodriguez and Ty France with pitches to open the inning. Santana’s homer was his 15th.
Seattle kept pace with Toronto and Tampa Bay in the crowded race for the top wild-card spot in the AL. The Padres hold the third and final NL wild-card slot, but lost for the third time in four games.
"We’re going to need to make it a little more of a sustained run here at some point in time in these last 20 games," Padres manager Bob Melvin said. "We’ve said this, keep saying it for a while. We feel like we have the pieces to do it. We just haven’t done it yet. So it’s time to just quit talking about it. We have to do it."
The three homers were plenty of offensive support for Luis Castillo, who continues to thrive since being acquired from Cincinnati ahead of the trade deadline. Castillo (7-5) threw six shutout innings, scattering four hits and striking out nine.
His most impressive strikeouts may have come in the first inning when he got Juan Soto swinging at a fastball that seemed to slice from one side of the plate to the other, then got Manny Machado waiving at a 100 mph fastball.
"It’s ridiculous. It’s like he’s playing Wiffle ball," Servais said. "That’s how the ball moves and it’s fun to watch him go out and compete."
In Castillo’s eight starts since coming to Seattle, he is 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings.
San Diego put a runner in scoring position in three of the first four innings against Castillo but couldn’t come through with a key hit. The Padres went 18 straight at-bats without a hit with runners in scoring position over three games before Jorge Alfaro’s RBI double in the seventh inning scored Wil Myers.
Clevinger allowed three home runs in a game for the first time in his career, and lost for the third time in his last four decisions. The six earned runs allowed was also a season high.
Mariners: RF Mitch Haniger’s sore lower back was feeling better but not well enough to be in the lineup on Wednesday. Manager Scott Servais said he would be re-evaluated ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Angels. ... IF/OF Dylan Moore (oblique) felt good after taking batting practice and Servais remained optimistic Moore could be activated during the upcoming road trip.
Padres: San Diego opens a four-game series in Arizona on Thursday. LHP Sean Manaea (7-8, 5.23) will make his first start since Sept. 3 when he gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. Manaea has just one victory since July 31.
Mariners: After an off day, Seattle opens a 10-game road trip against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. LHP Robbie Ray (12-9, 3.56) is scheduled to start the opener. Ray has won four of his past five starts, but lost his last time out to Atlanta after giving up four runs in five innings.