21 years later, we’re back.
After two decades of waiting, a season of anticipation, and a week of celebrating, it’s time for the Mariners to actually play a playoff game.
Today’s contest, the first in a best-of-three series in Toronto will feature both teams’ best pitchers. The Blue Jays are going with All Star Alek Manoah, who’s in the Cy Young conversation thanks to his 196 innings of 2.24 ERA baseball. The Mariners faced him on July 9th, when he pitched 7.1 innings, struck out seven, walked four, and allowed just three hits. But one of those hits was a two-run home run from Carlos Santana, which is how the Mariners ended up winning that game 2-1.
Santana is back in the lineup for this game, batting sixth. It’s unsurprising, but still interesting to see three lefties all stacked at the bottom of the lineup. One presumes that Jays manager John Schneider will eventually turn to a lefty to face them, at which point Scott Servais will bring in Dylan Moore and possibly Luis Torrens to pinch hit. For a look at all the options available off the bench, read John’s coverage of the announced Wild Card Round roster.
Luis Castillo takes the mound for Seattle and will face a vicious Toronto lineup, headlined by one of the best top-fours in MLB. He faced the Blue Jays ealier this season while he was still with the Reds. In that outing, he was touched up for seven hits over six innings, but did strikeout five without issuing a walk. Like when Seattle faced Manoah, that game ended 2-1 with today’s starting pitcher on the wrong side.
The game will air on ESPN with one of the best national broadcast teams in the business: Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian. The game will also stream on ESPN’s website and apps with a cable-package login. Radio will be available over 710 AM and on Mariners dot com, with the whole gang stuffed into one booth: Rick Rizzs, Aaron Goldsmith, Dave Sims, Mike Blowers and Gary Hill Jr.
We’ve been previewing this series in one form or another all week, so I’m not sure how much else is worth saying here, except for this: no matter what happens, try to enjoy it. You never know how long it will be before you get to watch another Mariner postseason series.
TV: ESPN (also streaming with a cable package login)
Radio: 710 and Mariners dot com
First pitch: 1:07 PT