SEATTLE – After spending eight years in the minors, Dundee-Crown graduate Ryan Court started this season on an even lower rung – in an independent league, still hoping for his big chance.
Which made his performance Saturday mean so much more.
The 31-year-old utility player got two hits and drove in three runs as the Seattle Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-1.
He also got a postgame dousing from his teammates.
“The Gatorade was awesome,” Court said. “It’s cool. Very cool.”
Court, who was making his first start in the majors, became only the third rookie in Mariners history to record two hits and three RBIs over his first two games, and the first since 2004. Court lined out as a pinch-hitter Friday in his big-league debut, and he went 0 for 2 Sunday after starting at first base.
Court teamed up with fellow rookie Austin Nola – one of three first-year players in a lineup that also included shortstop Dylan Moore – to power a three-run rally in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead Saturday.
And they helped put together a four-run fourth that put it out of reach for the reeling Tigers, who lost their fifth game in a row and fell 40 games below .500. At 30-70, they’ve been held to one or fewer runs 22 times this season.
Court drew a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd after his first hit and spent time with his parents and girlfriend, who made the trip to see him play, before speaking with reporters.
“When I got here, the guys were very welcoming,” Court said. “When you step in the box, it’s still the same game. Guys are better, it’s the best of the best, but it’s still the same game. You’re looking at the same zone. So, it hasn’t felt overwhelming yet.”
There hasn’t been a lot of cheer about for the Mariners in what’s been characterized as a step-back season. Court is the 13th rookie to make his debut and the major league-leading 58th player to suit up the Mariners.
Still, manager Scott Servais has been able to enjoy days like this.
“I enjoy it. I really do,” Servais said. “I enjoy giving guys opportunity and seeing how they handle it, see what they can do. A lot of these guys have had a long journey to get here, to get this opportunity, so it’s fun. Everybody’s chipping in. Everybody’s contributing.”
Nola hit a two-run triple in the fourth inning, and Court had an RBI single for his first hit and a 3-1 lead.
Nola added an RBI double in the four-run seventh inning, and Court matched him with a two-run, ground-rule double to make it 8-1. Court also played right field and first base.