MLB: Mariners face Blue Jays, wait on Julio Rodriguez’s prognosis

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After breaking out of a prolonged slump earlier in the week, Julio Rodriguez was penciled in for the cleanup spot for Saturday’s game against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

But the Seattle Mariners’ 23-year-old star never made a plate appearance.

Rodriguez played center field in the top of the first inning but didn’t come back out for the second. Mariners manager Scott Servais said after a 5-4 loss that Rodriguez was dealing with tightness in the lower part of his right quadriceps and was expected to undergo an MRI later in the day.

That will leave his availability in question for Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Seattle.

“He came in this morning and felt fine,” Servais said of Rodriguez, who jammed his right thumb while making a catch on Thursday and fouled a ball off his left knee on Friday. “When he was out before the game and the guys were running sprints in the outfield, he felt something. It tightened up and didn’t feel great.”

Luke Raley moved from first base to center field, and Ty France, who was supposed to get a day off, took over at first.

“You kind of have an idea going into the game how you’re going to use your bench, and when one of your main guys come out like that, you’ve got to pivot quickly,” Servais said.

Blue Jays rookie right-hander Yariel Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit ball to earn his first major league victory.

“It means a lot to me,” the Cuban-born Rodriguez said through an interpreter. “A lot of sacrifices for us to be here in the big leagues. Getting that first win is an unbelievable feeling.”

Alejandro Kirk went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for the Blue Jays, who won for just the fifth time in their past 18 games.

Kirk, who is batting .214, had his second multi-hit game since May 29.

“Everyone knows he can control the zone, but I think just swinging with a little more intent is kind of the deal,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of his catcher.

After falling behind 5-0, the American League West-leading Mariners rallied as Mitch Haniger hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and Raley added a solo shot in the ninth as Seattle won for only the fifth time in the past seven games.

“We still have a chance to win the series tomorrow,” Servais said Saturday. “You’re looking to, hopefully, come out, and we just have to do more offensively that’s just where it’s at early in the ballgames. I give our guys credit; they didn’t quit. We’re able to get some big hits there late to put pressure on them, but it’s going to take more than that.”

Sunday’s game is scheduled to feature a matchup of right-handers in Toronto’s Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.63 ERA) and Seattle’s George Kirby (7-6, 3.32).

Berrios, who has won his past two outings, is 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA against the M’s in eight career starts. He beat them 5-2 on April 8 in Toronto, allowing four hits and one walk in 6 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

Kirby went 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in four June starts before suffering a 2-0 loss to visiting Baltimore on Tuesday. He’s 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two appearances against the Blue Jays. He suffered a 5-3 loss at Toronto on April 9, when he was tagged for five runs on eight hits over four innings.

–Field Level Media

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