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About Last Night: “Thank God For Geno!”

A frustrating run for Eugenio Suárez pays off in the biggest way possible

Pittsburgh Pirates v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

On Saturday, Eugenio Suárez put a great swing on a Jose Hernandez slider in a 1-1 count, rocketing the ball at 102.6 mph out to deep right center, where it was caught against the wall by Jack Suwinski. The normally sangfroid Suárez took off his helmet and yelled into it in frustration. That would be the furthest hit ball of the day, but it would go for an out all the same, one day after baseballs were flying out of T-Mobile Park with abandon.

It’s rare to see the even-keeled Suárez react in frustration, but it was understandable. While he still gets a fair amount of power to his pull side, Suárez says when he is feeling best with his swing, that’s where his hits go: deep right center. At the park he called home for the majority of his major-league career, Great American Ballpark, right-center is about 370 feet away from home plate. At his new home park, T-Mobile, it’s 381 feet to right-center. Suárez’s flyout on Saturday, per Statcast, traveled 380 feet.

“When you hit a barrel and you get out, yeah, obviously, you get a little bit frustrated. But I just let it happen,” said Suárez about his flyout. “I’ve been around for a long time and I know how to handle it. Not every time you hit it hard on the barrel you have success, and like yesterday I got a hit off a check swing. This game is like that. I just think, just keep going, just keep going, never quit and put my best swing on it. And at some point those base hits are going to come my way.”

Last week, Connor and Bee looked at the value Suárez brings both on the field and off, even when he’s not hitting, but also pointed out that Suárez has brought a more relaxed stance to the plate over the past few weeks. That tracks with an uptick in hitting: over the past two weeks, Suárez is hitting the ball hard 50% of the time, but an xBA of .260 vs. his actual BA of .224 over that stretch suggests he’s still getting poor results despite putting good swings on the ball. Encouragingly, he does still have three home runs over that span—doubling his season total up to this point—with none bigger than yesterday’s walk-off.

Not only did Suárez’s homer win the Mariners the game and the series, it also rescued Julio Rodríguez from the doghouse after he went down swinging after a Robert Stephenson slider out of the zone. Julio’s unproductive out represented a -.200 swing in win probability, the largest negative swing for the Mariners of the game and the second-largest negative swing in the game behind McCutcheon’s GIDP in the top of the ninth. It’s hard to fault Julio as a young franchise player wanting to come up big for his team, needing just a deep enough sacrifice fly to score J.P. from third, but it undeniably put the Mariners in a tough spot. The pressure only increased when the Pirates walked lefty Jarred Kelenic to get to Suárez, although Suárez said that’s what he was expecting to happen.

“That moment, I was locked in. Like, it’s your time, you gotta do something. They’re going to walk Jarred and try to get me. But it didn’t work today. I was ready.”

In the postgame celebration, on-field mics picked up a jubilant Julio Rodríguez screaming THANK GOD FOR GENO!

“That means a lot to me,” Suárez said, smiling. “It’s nice when your teammates trust you and give you that confidence. I feel like they respect me and they know that at some point I can do something [to help the team win], and that happened today.”

“You know, I do my best. I try to be the same guy every [expletive] day, no matter what happened, if I’m 0-for-4 or 5-for-5, I try to be the same guy and stay positive.”

Thank God for Geno, indeed.