clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mariners invent Waffle Wednesdays, entertain idea of winning, lose

Late-game magic remains MIA as Mariners drop game to Twins, 6-3

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners again continued their innovative campaign of finding new ways to distress their fans tonight, this time creating a new addition to the workweek: Casual Fridays, Quiet Quitting, Bare Minimum Mondays, meet: Waffle Wednesdays, when you commit to doing something, think a lot about doing the thing, do some of the thing, think about it a little more, and then oh whoops it’s time to go home.

Tonight the Mariners found a few different ways to lose against the Twins in a game they never led, sunk once again by their somnambulant offense and a stretched-thin pitching staff that couldn’t tamp down the hemorrhaging. It was rough, but maybe made rougher by the Mariners’ brief burst of terminal lucidity towards the end of the game that put this game from “disassociated enough it can’t hurt me” and into “but maybe? But probably not. But maybe?” territory, where the Mariners have lived so much of this season. Waffle Wednesday, but without any delicious waffles.

The Twins stacked a ton of lefties against Castillo today, and surprise, it was super-effective. Castillo caused some of his own problems: he went to full counts on hitters three times in the first two innings, walking two, while trying to get a little too fine to work around all those lefty hitters. He also got a little unlucky on some groundballs that found holes, and got a little squeezed by HP umpire Sean Barber, who especially shaved Castillo along that top rail. The Twins scored a run in the second inning, a deeply laborious one for Castillo, who needed 29 pitches but escaped having given up just the one run, on a groundball single to nine-hole hitter Ryan Jeffers.

After that, Castillo seemed to decide that if he was going to have the Twins beat him, it was going to be against his best stuff, and he got back in the zone. He did give up two solo home runs—both to lefties, of course, one on a poorly-located fastball in the middle of the plate to Edouard Julien, and another in the same inning to Max Kepler, who ambushed a first-pitch changeup. That changeup, once Castillo’s best secondary, is now a distant second behind his slider, and it’s starting to become an issue when he faces a lefty-heavy lineup like the Twins.

But getting back in the zone, even at the cost of a couple of home runs, put Castillo in the driver’s seat. Castillo had already collected four strikeouts against the strikeout-prone Twins through his first two innings, but as he started attacking the zone more he really started racking them up, striking out the side in the third, adding another two in the fourth, and another one each in the fifth and sixth. 11 strikeouts sets a season high for Castillo, and a new high for him in his Mariners career.

Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda also set a season-high in strikeouts with 9, because that is a consequence for pitchers facing the 2023 Mariners. He, however, set his new season high on a mere 67 pitches, as that is also a consequence of facing the 2023 Mariners. Maeda allowed a leadoff single to J.P. and then nothing until Tom Murphy ambushed a first-pitch slider in the sixth.

With the door cracked ever so slightly open, Jarred Kelenic singled in the seventh to knock Maeda out of the game despite his low pitch count and the Twins opted to bring in Griffin Jax to face Eugenio Suárez. Jax tried to sneak a sweeper that didn’t sweep past Eugenio, who was not having any of it, clobbering this no-doubter:

In the words of Jarred Kelenic, “he doesn’t miss those.” That’s Eugenio’s third straight game with a home run, a very encouraging sign that maybe he and the marine layer have made friends at last.

Unfortunately, the Mariners weren’t able to add on to take the lead, and in the eighth, Andrés Muñoz again struggled to keep the Twins from making contact, giving up two ground ball singles. A passed ball allowed the go-ahead run to score, and Devin Sweet—called into a very difficult spot to make his major-league debut in a one-run game—allowed a two-run homer, although by that point, the damage was done, especially as the Mariners couldn’t get anything going against former Mariner Emilio Pagán or fireballing Jhoan Duran, who allowed two to reach—including hitting Julio on the elbow guard with 102, ouch—but shut the door after that. Welcome to 2023, where Mariners fans can’t even get a little glimmer of happiness in a major-league debut from an UDFA who fought his way to the Show.

Actually, scratch that. It wasn’t an ideal debut for Sweet, but having been inspired by John’s piece on existentialism and finding your own joy from this morning, I’m choosing to be nothing but happy for Sweet, who beat long odds to make a historic moment happen: he becomes the first player from NC Central to make it to the Show in the modern era, and only the second player of all time (the first was Burnalle “Bun” Hayes, who played in the Negro Leagues from 1928 to 1935). Furthermore, it was extra-special that Sweet, an alum of an HBCU, made his debut in the ballpark where the inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic took place. Congratulations to him.