SEATTLE -- Coincidence that the Mariners are 6-0 in games started by Franklin Gutierrez since his return from the disabled list? Maybe. But without question, the Gold Glove center fielder had a big hand in Friday's 4-3 victory over the Yankees as he went to the top of fence to rob a likely home run from Nick Swisher in the fourth inning.
"No chance," Swisher said of his thoughts after he'd smoked a Michael Pineda slider deep to right-center. "I hit that ball really well. What are you going to do? He looked like Michael Jordan out there on that play."
For the Mariners, this was what they'd been missing the first six weeks of the season while Gutierrez was out with a digestive tract issue. Michael Saunders played well defensively in his absence, but there aren't many center fielders who make plays with the ease of the 28-year-old Venezuelan.
"I think he's the best there is out there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan, acquired by trade from the Cardinals over the offseason, is just getting used to playing with Gutierrez. Himself an outstanding defender, Ryan marveled at Gutierrez's catch of Swisher's smash.
"It's just unbelievable," Ryan said. "I wish there was something stronger than unbelievable to use. Maybe I don't have the vocabulary for it. I couldn't tell if it was in the seats and he was just going after it respectfully or he really had a play on it.
"He's like a deer. Those strides are so graceful. Hopefully that's the first of many. He's special out there. I'm pretty sure that's why he took home some hardware last year."
From his perch in the Mariners' bullpen, reliever David Pauley took in the play as well.
"We had a great view," said Pauley, who came in later to record the victory in relief. "He's unbelievable. It was an empty feeling when he wasn't here at the start of the season. He's a great center fielder, obviously. He's got highlight after highlight. As he gets healthy again, he's a centerpiece for our team."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.