Sometimes you need an easy win. There are relatively few easy wins in baseball, much like there are in life, but I’d be lying if I didn’t look at today’s game and think this would be the one to get the Mariners off the schneid of four straight losses. And lo and behold, it was, as the Mariners trounced the Angels, 11-2.
Consider: on the one side, Mariners ace Luis Castillo, whose every performance is a reminder that no matter what the Mariners gave up for him, it was still somehow not enough, because nothing could ever be enough for this kind of pitcher, this kind of ace. La Piedra—even the name references his superpowers, able to stop loss streaks in their tracks, throwing pitches faster than a speeding bullet; the rock around which the rotation is built. I mean, watch this and tell me you think he’s not a superhero:
Defensive heroics aside, tonight Castillo was, as he is, excellent, striking out six over 5.2 innings of work (he probably should have cleared that sixth with a questionable non-strike-three check-swing call to Ohtani), allowing no runs on just two hits and two walks (one walk one “walk”). He was excellent, but maybe no more excellent than in this first-inning strikeout of Mike Trout on three pitches:
Just paint. Trout swung at each of those pitches, because duh, of course he had to, they are all in the zone. That wouldn’t be Trout’s first strikeout against Castillo, either; he’d go down again later, this time in a full count:
Luis Castillo strikes out Mike Trout ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/UypfQzEDMi— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) April 5, 2023
MMMM. The best part of that was it was a battle, a chess match between two grandmasters in Castillo and Trout, with Castillo narrowly earning the edge after a basically perfect pitch. It feels really good to be able to send a pitcher to the mound capable of battling, and besting, a talent like Trout. It won’t be every time, but it truly makes for some must-watch TV no matter what. A battle between two titans of the game like this makes our far-off coast and our cold little corner of the world feel alive and relevant and important to the game of baseball, and I’m grateful for that.
On the other side: José Suarez, the soft point in this Angels rotation. Look, sometimes you just need an easy win, and I’m not embarrassed to say I rubbed my hands together in villainous glee when I saw the Angels’ worst starter would line up against the Mariners’ best. At 1-4 on the season, the team needed a win, and the Mariners got it in grand fashion, tagging Suarez for seven runs (six earned) over 4.1 innings of work. The Mariners got out to an early lead when Julio led off with a double—exactly the same way the Angels had started the game, with a leadoff double off the bat of Taylor Ward to almost the exact same spot down the left field line as Julio’s. The difference here was the Mariners managed to cash in JRod’s double thanks to a pair of defensive miscues from the Angels, with Eugenio Suárez reaching on a throwing error from Luis Rengifo and later scoring on a wild pitch.
We’ve seen the Mariners now several times score first thanks to the Julio engine, only to give away the lead later; Castillo made sure that didn’t happen, and in the fourth, Teoscar Hernández made sure the Mariners’ only run tonight wouldn’t be thanks to the Angels’ ineptitude, cranking his first homer as a Mariner out to one of the deepest parts of the park:
The Mariners would add another in that inning when Cal Raleigh just missed a homer of his own, moving over Suárez, who had singled; he was then driven in by a productive out from AJ Pollock, to make it 3-0 Mariners.
3-0 felt pretty good with Castillo dealing on the hill and the Mariners’ highest-leverage relievers rested, but the keyword today is easy. Tonight I made Patti Labelle’s famous macaroni and cheese for dinner, which is the definition of an easy win: minimal work, no vegetables to fight with people over, no pesky bechamel sauce to make, just carbs and cheese and cream and butter, baked to golden perfection. Sometimes you just need an easy win. Teoscar gets that: with Julio aboard (double) and Ty France (single), Teoscar loaded up everyone’s plates and said don’t worry about the calories tonight:
The Mariners would play some add-on that inning, with AJ Pollock getting in on the action against replacement Jaime Barria, hitting his first home run as a Mariner:
A.J. Pollock wanted in on the fun pic.twitter.com/fnT6nzUYkk— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 5, 2023
The Mariners would do what they could to dirty up Barria’s season line; Cal Raleigh added another RBI single in the seventh, scoring France, before Pollock went yard again:
Both Teoscar and AJ Pollock are parents of small children, and maybe both understand the importance of easy wins and early nights. The Angels scored a couple times in garbage time off Paul Sewald, who didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but Gabe Speier came on in the end to button things up and get to participate in his first ever win dance as a Mariner. Welcome Gabe!
Tomorrow Ohtani takes the mound for the Angels so it’s back to complicated nutritionally-dense recipes and gritting through some scoreless innings, but for today? Eat your metaphorical cheesy carbs, smile, and enjoy it.