Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray combined for 14 strikeouts and only give up six hits as the Mariners won their second series of the year against the Yankees. These may have been the two best pitching performances of the year from the Mariners and they happened on back-to-back nights. However, the first game of the series was not as stellar from Logan Gilbert.
Gilbert got tagged by the Yankees for the second time in a row. Last time the damage was a season-high six runs on seven hits and four walks. Gilbert broke that mark giving up 10 hits and seven runs in only four innings. Adding on to the disappointment of game one, Jesse Winker would also leave the game with a back injury. But much of this game was forgettable due to what happened the next two days with Castillo and Ray.
Gilbert struggled for the Mariners, but Ray and Castillo were dominant
Castillo’s T-Mobile Park debut was very similar to his Mariners debut. He was dominant. The only glaring difference is that he got much less run support. Matter of fact, he only got one run of support and that was five innings after he exited the ballgame. He got six runs of support in the first inning at Yankee Stadium a week ago. Castillo finished with 8.0 innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and only allowed three hits and no runs.
The bullpen held down the fort for the rest of the game. Andres Munoz, Paul Sewald, and Matt Festa each gave the Mariners a shutout inning and Matt Brash gave them two. For every fantastic strikeout by Seattle’s bullpen, there was an equally as dumbfounding base-running error from the Yankees. There were four Yankee base-runners thrown out on the base paths in extra innings, three of the four runners being part of no-out double plays.
While the Mariners offense was pretty bad for the entirety of this game, Cal Raleigh and Luis Torrens got hits in the bottom of the 13th inning, with Torrens being the walk-off hit to drive in Eugenio Suarez and get the 1-0 victory.
The pitching performance and 14 strikeouts by Castillo and Co. will drown out the criticism of the offense, and really bad performances by anyone not named Haggerty, Raleigh, Haniger, Frazier, or Torrens. Jake Lamb, Jarred Kelenic and Geno would combine to go 0-12 with eight strikeouts. They only reached base by a walk from Lamb and by Geno being the last person out in the bottom of the 12th and being the runner starting on second in the final inning.
Sam Haggerty had a very eventful yet uneventful night as he had two singles which were immediately followed by inning-ending outs, one of which came from him getting caught stealing in the third inning. He was even intentionally walked in the 11th and 13th which eventually led to the Torrens walk-off. Haggerty also had a fantastic sliding catch for the final out in the 11th.
His performance carried over to the series finale the following afternoon. He hit a solo home run off of the foul pole in right field to break up Nestor Cortes’ no-hit bid with one out in the bottom of the sixth and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
The Mariners would enter and leave the seventh inning with a one-run lead, but what happened in between was classic chaos ball.
Robbie Ray had a fantastic performance getting through 6.1 innings only allowing three hits and racking up seven strikeouts. The only downsides were that he gave up a season-high five walks and his last walk put Isiah Kiner-Falefa on base.
Scott Servais should have taken Ray out of the game after his 109th pitch which resulted in the IKF walk, but Servais didn’t. Servais let him continue because of the lack of bullpen arms due to the game the previous night. Then on pitch 115, the Yankees got the lead with a two-run homer from the backup catcher and last hitter in the lineup, Kyle Higashioka.
After the go-ahead home run, Servais made the change. Murfee came in and retired DJ LeMahieu for out number two and then gave up a solo shot to Aaron Judge. That made it a 3-1 deficit for the M’s going into the bottom of the seventh.
A single and an advance to second on a passed ball set Ty France up on second when Mitch Haniger hit an RBI single to cut the Yankees lead to one.
Then Carlos Santana did what he has done for the Mariners since he was traded to them in July, hit clutch home runs. Santana sent a ball to deep right field which Aaron Judge didn’t even try for to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead. Santana has hit seven home runs for the Mariners. Five of them have tied the game or given them the lead.
Diego Castillo came in for the eighth after being activated from the IL earlier this morning. Castillo got two groundouts and struck out Gleyber Torres and set Sewald up for a save to win the series. Sewald got a strikeout of his own and then forced and line out to Adam Frazier and a foul out to France to seal the game and the series.
This series did two things. It showed that the Mariners have an elite pitching staff, including two aces in Robbie Ray and Luis Castillo. It also highlighted an already frustrating offense and showed that the Mariners can definitely be gotten on the offensive end if their starter has an off day.
You don’t win many games when you perform the way the Mariners offense did this series. They put together a team average of .180 for the series and put up an average of three runs per game, which even for them is bad as they average 4.02 runs per game this season. The series also included a stretch of 18 innings putting up one total run.
Even our best offensive player, with no Julio Rodriguez in the lineup, Ty France went 1-13 with his only hit coming in the seventh inning of game three. But hopefully, with Julio getting healthy, he will start to be very impactful as the end of the regular season nears.
One bright spot has been the return of Mitch Haniger to the lineup. Haniger went 5-11 for the series with two RBIs. He has returned to form and can be a huge boost to the lineup.
This team has serious home-run pop in the first five batters of their lineup. Julio is leading the team in home runs as a rookie. Ty looks like he will eclipse 20 home runs for the first time in his career. Mitch is coming off of a career-best 39 home run season and has 4 home runs in 14 games, one of which he left the game after his first at-bat. Geno is now tied with Aaron Judge in homers since 2018 with 147. And when Jesse Winker connects, the ball travels.
The Mariners now also have two legit, top-of-the-line starters. Robbie Ray has had his struggles this year against most notably the Astros, but he has been fantastic otherwise. He is still currently eighth in strikeouts with 157 this year and is ninth in K/9 with a 10.3. Then you add Luis Castillo to the mix who has a top 20 WHIP with 1.04.
The full starting rotation has been extremely good. They are third in baseball with 53 quality starts, only trailing the Astros and Padres. Heck, Luis Castillo has 12 quality starts on his own, two in two starts with Seattle. It makes for an elite rotation. And the bullpen now gets more depth with Chris Flexen being added to the bullpen from the starting rotation.
The bullpen has been electric this year and especially in this series. You saw what Andres Munoz and Matt Brash can do against fantastic hitters as they both racked up three strikeouts in the win on Tuesday. They have two very good closers with Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo. Erik Swanson and Penn Murfee have a WHIP of 0.79 and 0.69 respectively. They still have Matt Festa who is second on the team in K/9 for pitchers who threw at least 30 innings.
The Mariners bullpen has the lowest WHIP in the league at 1.08. Although they’ve been middle of the pack on strikeouts, they have the third-fewest walks and the second least hits. They will still have another spot open for the taking to likely either Ken Giles or Matthew Boyd, who was top 10 in strikeouts in 2019, in September when rosters expand to 28 and they can carry 14 pitchers.
This series capped off one of the hardest 20-game stretches the Mariners will have to go through, pending a potential playoff run, with 13 coming against the Astros and Yankees. They went 10-10 over the stretch which isn’t dazzling but they’ve done it without Julio for 15 of the 20 games. Dylan Moore, Jesse Winker, Diego Castillo, and Ty France all also missed time during the stretch.
If the Mariners taking four of six from the Yankees and winning the season series against them for the first time since 2002 is a sign of things to come, then this team will be must-watch baseball for the rest of the season and hopefully for years to come.
They have a chance to continue their dominance (six straight series wins, 11-2 record this year, and eight straight wins) against the Rangers this weekend in Arlington.