Wednesday marked the long-awaited debut of Luis Castillo, who was acquired four days earlier in a major trade from the Reds. The All-Star ace, who was sent to Seattle for a four-pack of prospects, was slated to take the win in the rubber against the Yankees.
But before Castillo could make a run to the Yankee Stadium mound in the bottom of the first, Seattle’s leadoff acquisition had a six-run lead.
Thanks to three home runs in the first inning from Yankees starter Gerrit Cole – including back-to-back shots from Eugenio Suarez and Carlos Santana – Seattle jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Either way, Castillo struck out eight as he lasted into the seventh inning, allowing three hits and three runs.
“It’s always good to go up there with a lot of cushion,” Castillo said through a translator. “I go up there with a bigger plan, (and) I’m a little more relaxed when I go up there.”
Castillo gave up a two-run homer to New York’s Kyle Higashioku in the seventh, perhaps marring the box score on an otherwise stellar day in his Mariners debut. After the 29-year-old gave up a run in the second inning, Castillo posted a flawless third inning with sharp strikeouts against Yankees relievers Anthony Rizzo and Matt Carpenter.
Castillo fanned another pair in back-to-back clean innings in the fourth. In the fifth, he faced the minimum again. Until Carpenter struck out in the sixth, Castillo retired ten in a row.
Manager Scott Servais told Castillo on Tuesday that his best teammate will soon be shortstop JP Crawford, and it won’t take long for the rookie to find out why.
When New York’s Aaron Hicks lined one of Castillo’s offerings near second base on Wednesday, Crawford dove to his left to rob the Yankees outfielder of a leadoff single in the fifth inning.
“When JP made a diving stop … from the mound, (Castillo) looked at me and said, ‘Hey, you’re right,'” Servais said with a smile.
Castillo relied on a consistent four-inning combination, offering mainly the load to the Yankees’ hitters, who have the best record in the league. He produced five strikes on his slider — the most of any of his pitches Wednesday — while adding both a changeup and a four-seam fastball averaging 98 mph over the course of the appearance. His sinker, usually around 97 mph, nearly touched the triple digits.
“There are a lot of guys in this league who throw 98 (mph). This movement,” Serve said, referring to Castillo’s sinker. “The ability to take it from both sides of the plate, so guys are never comfortable. And there are many experienced strikers [on the Yankees].
“Josh Donaldson, I mean he’s trying to guess where (Castillo) is going and you can never guess right because Luis has so many weapons. And he uses them all.”
Servay called on Ryan Barucki to end the seventh before Matt Festa and Paul Sewald threw scoreless innings to secure the 7-3 final. The win capped off a crucial road series win for the Mariners, who lost three of four at Minute Maid Park last weekend.
“I wasn’t the manager here in the old Felix Hernandez days,” Servay said. “But watching Felix when he was in his prime, that’s what (Luis) reminded me of today. This guy is a dude. He is the original number. He wants the ball.”
When Castillo walked off the mound in the seventh after a successful Mariner debut, he spotted his parents and brothers among the Yankee Stadium crowd, who tipped their caps in recognition.
“No matter where I play, they’re usually there,” Castillo said. “They were here today to support me.
“I’ve only been (in Seattle) for two days, but from what I can tell from these guys, they play to win. So yes, of course I feel that energy.”
Seattle got Thursday off and returned home to T-Mobile Park for a weekend series with the rival Angels that featured a Saturday doubleheader.
Despite seven innings of stellar one-run ball from starter Robbie Ray on Friday night, the Mariners entered the ninth inning down 3-0. Until the final out, Seattle rallied for three runs, capped by a two-run single by Ty French that pushed the game into extras.
“It says a lot about this team that we never quit, even in the ninth inning, when things don’t seem to be going our way,” Ray said. “We were still able to scrap it.”
But the Angels scored in the tenth, and Seattle went into a tailspin. Los Angeles held on, 4-3.
France evened the series with a two-run homer in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. the only runs needed for Seattle’s 2-1 win. Serve was hoping for a rejuvenated attack for Game 2, only to lose, 7-1. Instead, Angels starter Reid Detmers shut down the Mariner offense for one run over seven strong innings and didn’t allow a baserunner until Sam Hagerty made a play with two outs in the third.
“Honestly, I was hoping for a better glass of the night,” manager Scott Cerve said in his opening remarks after the game. “I’ll give a ton of credit — I thought Detmers, their starter, was really good.”
Jesse Winker launched a walk-off grand slam in the third inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Angels, sealing the series split with a 6-3 victory. Marco Gonzalez struck out seven and struck out three over six complete innings, and the Mariners’ trio of winners — Andres Munoz, Penn Murphy and Paul Sewald — each posted scoreless innings of relief.
Seattle is in a virtual tie with Tampa Bay (58-50) for the second and third AL wild card allocations. Both clubs hold a two-game cushion over Baltimore (56-52).
The Mariners and Rays trail Toronto (60-48) by a pair of games for the league’s best wild-card allocation, guaranteeing a three-game home series in the first round of the postseason.
TRADE TERM OF GOODS
Former Reds ace Luis Castillo was undoubtedly Seattle’s top acquisition before the trade deadline on Aug. 2, but general manager Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners made a pair of “low-key” deals to bolster the roster ahead of the playoffs.
Seattle acquired shortstop Jake Lamb from the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named or cash in the final hour before Tuesday’s trade deadline at 3:00 p.m. PT. He is a native of Seattle and played baseball at the University of Washington.
Minutes later, the team announced another trade, with the Mariners adding left-hander Matthew Boyd and catcher Kurt Casali from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for prospects Michael Striefeller (RHP) and Andy Thomas (C).
“We got the veteran backup we were hoping for,” Dipoto told reporters Tuesday. “And to be honest, (Cazzali) was our target from the beginning. We got the guy we wanted.”
Lamb’s first at-bat in Seattle ended with a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Friday night’s near-comeback at T-Mobile Park.
“He’s controlling the strike zone a lot better and really hunting his pitches,” Servette said. “He’s done some good things this year and hopefully he can help us.”
Dipoto and the Mariners have shown interest in Boyd before, back when the Mercer Island native and Eastside Catholic graduate began his major league career with both Toronto and Detroit. Both Boyd and Lamb grew up Mariners fans.
Said Dipoto: “We made it a priority today to get all the lifelong Mariners fans to try to be with us as we try to break a 20-year playoff drought.”
Cazaly joined the Triple-A Rainiers on Friday night to continue his rehab from a sprained right oblique. Boyd has yet to pitch in 2022 after undergoing surgery on his forearm flexor tendon — and is “somewhat away” from being traded to the Mariners, though both Giants acquisitions could be back by the end of the regular season, according to Servay.
“It was more quantity than quality, and if you wanted to buy at the high end, you were going to pay,” Dipoto said, describing the trading market in the final hours. “We felt we were at that time in our evolution that it was time to do this. And we did, and I know there were other teams that did something similar.”
– Outfielder Jesse Winker leads the American League with 64 walks.
– Starting pitcher George Kirby has the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.36) through the first 15 career starts of any pitcher in MLB history, per Mariners PR.
– Outfielder Mitch Haniger rejoined the Mariners for the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. pitch placement 1 to 3 with a double and a walk. It was the 31-year-old’s first major league game since April 29.
Haniger appeared with both High-A Everett and Triple-A Tacoma in July and August as part of a rehab assignment from a sprained right ankle.
“I felt a lot of energy all day today, very excited to get back on the field and join the team,” Haniger said Saturday night. “I really wanted to come back since I got injured and I just (made sure) that I feel good, my body is ready to play every day and (I’m) checking all the boxes.”
– Cullen DeBoer, announced as the final head football coach at the University of Washington last November, will throw the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s game against the Yankees.
Will he get to the top of the mound — 60 ½ feet from home plate?
DeBoer asked the opinion of reporters at Husky Stadium. “What do you think? … All the way to the top?”
One reporter shouted, “Oh yeah!”
DeBoer’s response: “There’s only one way, right? Now that we’ve said that, I guess that’s where we need to go.”
The Yankees visit T-Mobile Park for a three-game homestand starting Monday night. Jameson Taillon will start for New York against Seattle’s Logan Gilbert.
Seattle (59-51) gets Thursday off and then embarks on a three-game, nine-game road trip, all against division rivals. The Mariners travel to Globe Life Field for the first time for a weekend matchup with the Rangers beginning Friday.