Haniger enjoys life at top as Mariners host Rangers

By Gene Warnick, The Sports Xchange
Mitch Haniger and the Seattle Mariners face the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/d8c83a854acc87700b412a3de3480180/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Mitch Haniger and the Seattle Mariners face the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

Mitch Haniger might not be a prototypical leadoff hitter.

But his statistics since moving into the top spot for the Seattle Mariners indicate he might stay there.


The 27-year-old outfielder, who made his first All-Star Game this summer, has hit .333 in 41 games in the leadoff role, with eight homers and 19 RBIs since replacing Dee Gordon, who was hobbled by a broken toe.

"He does it a little differently," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "More the George Springer/Mookie Betts type where there's real pop at the top of the lineup, which isn't your traditional leadoff guy. I like having him there and it's been really good for our offense. The consistency he's had, just on his approach, has been really good from that spot."


Haniger and the Mariners will open their final series of the season Thursday when they host the Texas Rangers.

In Haniger's first game at the top of the order in the major leagues, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a leadoff home run in the first inning off Houston's Justin Verlander.

"It's the same approach," Haniger said. "Nothing changes. I've batted leadoff in college and the minor leagues. I've always liked it, but I really don't care where I hit. It doesn't really matter to me. As long as there are hits, it's fine."

RELATED Indians wrap up regular season with series vs. Royals

The Mariners (86-72) have a winning record against every team in the AL West this season except one -- the last-place Rangers (66-92), who are 8-7 against Seattle.

Rangers rookie right-hander Ariel Jurado (4-5, 6.66 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener of the four-game series against Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (13-9, 4.12).

Jurado beat the Mariners 8-3 on Friday with five innings of relief, entering after Connor Sadzeck pitched a scoreless first inning. Jurado allowed two runs on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Gonzales is 3-1 with a 3.97 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers. He's 2-1 versus them this season, including a 13-0 victory Saturday in which he allowed one hit in six innings, with one walk and three strikeouts.


Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo reached a couple milestones Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels as he hit his 40th home run, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to reach that total in consecutive seasons.

In his next at-bat, Gallo struck out for the 200th time this season, the most in Rangers history.

"I'm trying to get better (at making contact), and I feel like I have gotten better, but that's me. That's what I kind of bring to the table," Gallo said. "When they make their pitch, they're probably going to get me, but when they make a mistake, that's when I have to be on my game and hit that pitch and be ready for it."

Interim manager Don Wakamatsu greeted Gallo when he returned to the dugout after his home run.

"People don't know about his sense of humor," Wakamatsu said. "He came in after that 40th one and I said, 'We got it Joey.' He said, 'Good, well maybe I don't have to play the rest of the year.' It's just his dry sense of humor. But he doesn't know how good he can be."


Latest Headlines


Follow Us