This is the version of Jarred Kelenic that the Mariners projected when they acquired him as the centerpiece of that trade back before the 2019 season.
This outburst of offense in the three-game series in Kansas City and his overall showing for the month of September is the sort of production expected from fans and baseball experts when Kelenic made his much-anticipated debut in May.
Of course, the path to this point has been anything but linear. It’s been filled with missteps and failures, a sojourn back in Tacoma and a return that’s been a slow build to this weekend of success.
And in the end, it will likely make him, and ultimately the Mariners, better moving forward into next season and beyond. Kelenic capped a productive weekend at Kauffman Stadium, notching his second career three-hit game and driving in three runs, including his third homer of the series and leading the Mariners to a 7-1 win.
With a series win over the Royals, Seattle’s postseason hopes have a hint of a pulse, albeit a very faint one. With an 80-69 record and 13 games remaining, the Mariners sit four games back of the Blue Jays for the second wild card spot with the Yankees and A’s still ahead of them.
After being held to only three hits in Saturday’s lackluster 8-1 loss, the Mariners made Royals hard-throwing rookie Jackson Kowar, the Royals No. 2 pitching prospect, work from his very first pitch, refusing to help out his lack of command by chasing pitches. A one-out double from Ty France followed back-to-back walks from Abraham Toro and Mitch Haniger loaded the bases for Kelenic.
Seeing Kowar struggle to find the strike zone, Kelenic showed a discipline that wasn’t existent earlier in the season, refusing to swing until Kowar threw him a strike, which came in the second pitch. After fouling off a 1-2 fastball, Kelenic didn’t chase a low fastball. With a 2-2 count and knowing Kowar had to throw a fastball, he jumped on a 97 mph, sending a line drive off the wall in deep right-center to score two runs.
Leading off the third inning, Kelenic made it 3-0, launching a solo blast to deep right-center. It was a similar display of patience from the young slugger. He didn’t chase an 0-2 changeup, worked the count back to 3-2 and then crushed a 97-mph fastball for his 13th homer of the season. Jake Bauers crushed a monster 460-foot solo homer to make it 4-0.
The Mariners got a solid start from fellow rookie Logan Gilbert, who pitched seven innings, allowing one run on just three hits with a walk and five strikeouts.©2021 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.