Julio Rodriguez steals a homer against the Orioles

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

With Seattle down 4-3 in the seventh inning, O’Hearn punched Ty Adcock’s hanging slider for what should have been a two-run homer. But Rodriguez tracked the ball all the way, timing his jump perfectly at the wall to knock it out of the air over the Orioles’ hangar.

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

Rodriguez understandably charged after the play, while O’Hern put both hands on his helmet in disbelief. Before the next inning, Rodriguez celebrated by throwing a young fan’s day—the boy, who was wearing Rodriguez’s jersey, handed the ball out of play from outside the Mariners dugout.

“He had a big sign with checkers on it, and the last square left to check was to meet me,” Rodriguez said. “I went over and said hi to him and chatted with him a bit between turns, and after I fished, I said, ‘Take this trophy.’ I knew he would appreciate it.”

Stealing a homer has been on Rodriguez’s hit list since entering the league last season; Surprisingly, the near-unanimous AL Rookie of the Year-winning 2022 season included no such catch despite Rodríguez’s rating Among the best defensive quarterbacks in baseball. He entered Saturday play tied for third among MLB position players in Outs Above Average again in 2023, despite his offensive production declining amid innings and starts at the plate.

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In that sense, the great acquisition was part of a stellar day from Rodriguez, who also recorded his 13th home run of the season in a home run in the sixth and stole his 17th base as part of a three-hit game. 500 (37-38) despite those contributions and two hits from Mike Ford, including a game-smashing two-run off of Orioles closer Felix Bautista in the ninth. Ford became the first Seattle player to play on a triple-digit home field in the field-tracking era, since 2008, before the club eventually lost at Ryan McKenna Stadium in the 10th round.

Rodríguez has cut a .243/.305/.424 — significantly from a .272/.333/.449 streak he produced through 75 games as a junior in 2022. But he’s still on track for 28 tackles and 36 steals, remaining His all-around game-changing ability is plain to see.

“Julio played a really good game today,” said coach Scott Servis. “Even though we scored a lot of runs last night, he was here early today, working on some stuff with the hitting coaches. He was around most of the day, and then he made some great catches. This pitch has a tendency to produce some of those catches, and he has He got a good one.”

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