Julio Rodríguez steals a home run against the Orioles

Rodríguez converted one of the best home steals you’ll see in the Mariners’ 6-4 loss to the Orioles in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon, jumping over the center field wall at Oriole Park in Camden Yards for steal Ryan O’ Listen.

As Seattle was down 4-3 in the seventh inning, O’Hearn hit a suspended Ty Adcock slider for what should have been a game-breaking two-run homer. But Rodríguez followed the ball the entire way, perfectly timing his leap off the wall to snatch it in the air over the Orioles’ bullpen.

“I knew I had it all the time, I just didn’t think it would go this far,” Rodriguez said. “I was really looking forward to this.”

Rodríguez was understandably charged after the game, while O’Hearn put both hands on his helmet in disbelief. Before the next half-inning, Rodríguez celebrated by making a young fan’s day – by handing the boy, who was wearing a Rodríguez jersey, the game ball just outside the Mariners dugout.

“He had a big sign with boxes on it, and the last box to check was to meet me,” Rodríguez said. “I went to say hello to him and talked to him a bit between sets, and after I caught I said, ‘Take this souvenir. I knew he would appreciate that.

Stealing a homer has been on Rodríguez’s to-do list since he broke into the league last season; surprisingly, his nearly unanimous AL Rookie of the Year award-winning 2022 season did not include such a hold despite Rodríguez’s ranking as one of baseball’s top center backs. He came into play Saturday tied for third among MLB center defensemen in Outs Above Average again in 2023, though his offensive production has plummeted amid slumps and starts at home plate.

In that sense, the big catch was part of a great full day from Rodríguez, who also hit his 13th homer of the season in the top of the sixth and stole his 17th base in a three-hitter game. But the Mariners ultimately lost a game below .500 (37-38) despite those contributions and two homers from Mike Ford, including a two-man smash on the Orioles closer to Felix Bautista in the ninth. Ford became the first Seattle player to homer on a three-figure pitch in the field-following era, since 2008, before the club ultimately lost on Ryan McKenna’s two-run homer in the 10th.

Rodríguez is slashing .243 / .305 / .424 — a huge drop from the .272 / .333 / .449 line he produced in 75 games as a rookie in 2022. But he’s still on the pace for 28 homers and 36 interceptions, and its game-changing all-round ability remains evident.

“Julio had a really good game today,” manager Scott Servais said. “Even though we scored a lot of runs last night, he was here early today working on a few things with our batting coaches. He spent most of the day there and then made a fantastic catch. This stadium tends to produce some of those takes, and it had a good one.

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