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Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez likes the Mariners’ chances

Astros, Phillies and Padres in position to clinch spots in the League Championship Series.

Although the Seattle Mariners are in danger of being swept by the Houston Astros in the Division Series, rookie phenom Julio Rodriguez is optimistic heading into Game 3 at home.

Rodriguez’s confidence is buoyed by how close the first two games were at Minute Maid Park against the defending American League champions. He is also excited about the reception he expects from the Mariners’ fans in the first postseason game in Seattle in 21 years.

Rodriguez and his teammates hope the Astros don’t clinch their sixth consecutive trip to the American League Championship Series.

Julio Rodriguez hopes to catch breaks

“I just feel like everybody that has been watching the games and just things didn’t go our way in those games,” Rodriguez said. “I feel we did everything we could. We just didn’t catch a break. 

“I feel like we just got to keep putting the pressure on, keep putting good at-bats. I feel like we faced very much the two best pitchers they got, and we played good games. Respect to them, because they’re a really good team too. But I feel like we’re right there with them. I feel like we got the stuff to compete and we got enough to turn everything around.”

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Rodriguez, the likely AL Rookie of the Year, has a point. The Mariners knocked out AL Cy Young Award favorite Justin Verlander with four runs early in Game 1. 

The Mariners appeared on the verge of winning Game 1 until Jeremy Peña hit a two-out single to center in the bottom of the ninth. Everybody knows what happened next. Yordan Alvarez hit a monster, three-run, walk-off home run to give the Astros an 8-7 victory.

Two days later, Alvarez ruined Luis Castillo’s impressive outing with a two-run homer the opposite way to give the Astros the lead for good in the sixth inning.

Rookie of the Year

Rodriguez, who hit 28 homers in the regular season, is hitting .333 with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs in the Division Series. The All-Star and 2022 Home Run Derby runner-up has had a magical rookie season, earning comparisons to Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr.

Julio Rodriguez
Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez is excited to play Game 3 of the Division Series in front of his hometown fans. Photos by Juan Deleon.

Now, the Mariners hope to feed off their fans after playing their first four games of this postseason on the road. They swept the Toronto Blue Jays in the best-of-three Wild Card Series to earn a shot at the defending AL champions.

“I definitely engage a lot with the Mariners fans coming up,” Rodriguez said. “And I know that they’re going to be, it’s going to be a lot of excitement out there. 

“I cannot wait to step on the field with them in the first postseason game in a long time here. I’m definitely excited for that, and I know they’re going to enjoy it. I know they’re going to enjoy it.”

Phillies, Padres also hope to clinch today

The Astros aren’t the only team hoping to clinch a berth in the next round today. The wild-card Phillies appear primed to shock the baseball world yet again. The Padres also are within a victory of the National League Championship Series.

San Diego took a 2-1 lead with a 2-1 victory Friday night at Petco Park. The Phillies demolished the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves 9-1 in Game 3 Friday. Bryce Harper and Co. are a victory away from the NLCS.

Philadelphia is playing with a lot of confidence after sweeping the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals in the first Wild Card Series. They’ve taken two of the first three against the Braves in the best-of-five series.

As Rhys Hoskins crossed the plate after hitting a three-run home run Friday afternoon, Harper reiterated a message that has become somewhat of a mantra for the Phillies.

“We ain’t losing,” the Phillies superstar and National League MVP candidate told Hoskins.

Harper ain’t lying. 

Hoskins drilled his three-run blast to left field in the third inning, giving the Phillies a comfortable four-run lead. Harper added a two-run homer later in the inning.

“He said, ‘We ain’t losing.’ He’s been saying it, first day in St. Louis,” Hoskins said. “I think it’s the belief that he has in us. It’s the belief we have in each other.”

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