Mariners, Julio Rodriguez seek to take series from Guardians

There was a buzz Friday at T-Mobile Park, and not just because the Cleveland Guardians and host Seattle Mariners tussled for 11 innings in a potential playoff preview before nearly 40,000 fans.

When All-Star Julio Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of the Mariners’ 3-2 victory, the public address announcer confirmed what Seattle fans had been talking about all day. Rodriguez had received a massive contract extension.

While Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday, the Mariners still won their second straight game against Cleveland. The four-game series resumes Saturday night.

Without announcing dollar figures, the team confirmed on Friday that Rodriguez landed a seven-year deal for 2023-29. The player and the club have options for the 2030-34 seasons, and the Mariners have options for 2035-39.

If all options are executed, the contract would max out at $470 million, ESPN reported.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told Jerry. I am so happy to be here.”

Friday’s game between the American League Central-leading Guardians and the Mariners felt worthy of October. Seattle holds the third and final wild-card position and would travel to Cleveland for a first-round matchup if the postseason started on Saturday.

Mitch Haniger’s single in the bottom of the 11th inning scored Dylan Moore with the winning run after each of the game’s first four runs came home on sacrifice flies.

Cleveland left fielder Steven Kwan made a diving catch on a foul ball while flying into the stands in the fifth inning, a play reminiscent of the one made by the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter in 2004. Kwan appeared to injure his ribs on an arm rest but stayed in the game.

“I thought he was really hurt. I was afraid,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “After he fell you don’t know what he hit. So I think we dodged a pretty big bullet there. He said he’s OK. He’s fearless.”

Saturday’s game will feature a matchup of right-handers in Cleveland’s Zach Plesac (2-11, 4.43 ERA) and Seattle’s Luis Castillo (5-5, 2.93).

Plesac, who was skipped the last time through the rotation, has lost his past seven decisions since recording a victory against Baltimore on June 5. He’s 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in one previous career start against Seattle.

Castillo is 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland.

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