If you were hoping for a turnaround from Luis Castillo after a few shaky outings, unfortunately that was not in the cards today, as La Piedra got torched by the Red Sox hitters en route to his worst start of the season. This was not a fun game to watch nor to write about, so let’s all just grit our teeth and get through this recap together.
In heavy swing mode again, the Red Sox jumped on Castillo early—although he wasn’t helped out by an error from Kolten Wong on the first batter of the ballgame that should have been a solid first out. But after that, Castillo gave up a ton of hard contact, landing his pitches well in the middle of the plate for the Red Sox batters to punish. You could read the rest of this recap, or you could just look at this list of exit velocities off Castillo, which probably tells you all you need to know about how this game went:
Masataka Yoshida tripled to score the first run of the day, and then Justin Turner turned on a 96 mph fastball middle-middle for a two-run homer. Castillo was then able to get Devers to ground out on a first-pitch changeup—although again on a spicy 108 mph EV—and then struck out Jarren Duran on the changeup. But Tristan Casas pounced on a first-pitch slider for a solo homer to put the Red Sox up 4-0 early.
However, the Mariners hitters battled back in support of Castillo. It took until the fourth inning, but they eventually got to embattled Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta. Eugenio Suárez singled, Cal Raleigh worked a walk, and then Teoscar Hernández “tripled” (really, hit a double into the dangerous part of Fenway where it got past Jarren Duran in center) to clear the bases. Smelling blood in the water, Taylor Trammell pounced on a fastball on the plate of his own to tie it up:
Taylor Trammell— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) May 17, 2023
We have a tie ballgame! pic.twitter.com/bFmjG3fTOz
I make fun of Fenway’s baseball park for ants but this is a no-doubter. The venerable Dongbot informs me this would be out at all 30 MLB parks.
The Mariners had an opportunity to pull ahead in the fifth when Ty France led off with a double and a Julio groundout moved him to third, but Jarred couldn’t make contact in a full-count, seven-pitch at-bat, striking out. Eugenio Suárez then worked a walk, bringing up Cal Raleigh, who wasn’t able to recapture the magic of last night, striking out on a curveball.
That would prove to be disastrous, as Castillo, after stringing together three solid innings after his rough first inning, disintegrated again in the bottom of the fifth. He went to a 3-0 count on his first two batters, giving up back-to-back doubles and the go-ahead run. But the real damage came when he hung a slider to Duran, who tattooed it over the center-field wall for a 7-4 Red Sox lead.
After giving up just three home runs all season, Castillo gave up three tonight. But more troubling than the hard contact was his lack of whiffs: despite a couple extra ticks of velocity, neither the four-seam fastball nor the changeup fooled batters tonight, with the changeup (27 pitches) getting just 3 whiffs on 15 swings and the four-seamer just one (1). While Castillo’s overall season numbers still look fine, tonight continued a troubling trend of rough outings from him.
Things would get uglier from there. Paul Sewald, getting in some much-needed work against the top of the Red Sox lineup in the bottom of the seventh, failed to command the zone, walking the first batter he saw. Kolten Wong lost a flyball in shallow right field allowing Justin Turner to reach on a “single.” Another soft fly ball scored Verdugo for the eighth Red Sox run of the day, essentially resetting the game to the 4-0 lead they enjoyed for the first three innings. Juan Then had to be called in to bail out Sewald, and while it was a little dodgy, he eventually caught Triston Casas looking on this spicy 90 mph changeup:
In mop-up duty, Then gave up three straight singles in the bottom of the eighth, surrendering the 9th run of the night, but he did cap the damage at that point, not allowing the Red Sox to reach double-digit runs. Small victories, I guess. Also a small victory: Tayler Saucedo looked very good again, as the only Mariners pitcher tonight who didn’t give up a run, working a 1-2-3 sixth inning against the bottom of the Red Sox lineup.
After wearing out the Red Sox bullpen last night, the Mariners batters were unable to do anything off recent Triple-A callups Ryan Sherriff and Justin Garza, as well as Josh Winckowski. Once again, J.P. Crawford went hitless out of the leadoff spot, and Jarred Kelenic quietly had a lousy game, with three strikeouts. The Mariners will search for that elusive offensive consistency again tomorrow—something they’ll need for the rest of the season, for sure, but definitely tomorrow, when Marco Gonzales takes the mound
at the ballpark for ants Fenway.