The Mariners wasted no time in getting to work today and continued to do the small things correctly. Backed by a strong performance from Cy Young candidate Luis Castillo and some good hitting from the middle of the order, the Mariners took a 7-2 victory over the A’s Tuesday night and continue to look like they may just be able to put it all together consistently for this last playoff push.
The Mariners started off the game relatively tepidly against starting pitcher Paul Blackburn but drew first blood in the second inning. Eugenio Suárez smashed a double into left field and was driven home on a Jarred Kelenic single immediately after, putting the Mariners up 1-0.
The Mariners would strike again in the 4th inning, starting off strong with a Teoscar Hernández walk, followed by a Teo stolen base. Following a strikeout by Suarez, Kelenic again came through for the Mariners in the clutch, driving in Hernández from second on a bloop single to left field. He also advanced to second on the play at the plate. However, the Mariners failed to capitalize further, and Kelenic was left stranded on the base paths. Still, the Mariners were able to consistently get to Blackburn, grabbing four hits, two runs, and a walk off of the right-hander. Kelenic’s two RBIs were the spark for the Mariners offense today, and it was good to see the youngster get back on track. Kelenic spoke more after the game about his approach at the plate.
For a player who has previously had some mental struggles at the plate and a crisis of confidence, it’s good to see him set those thoughts aside and focus more on getting the ball in play and getting the line moving rather than trying to do too much. Hopefully, this is the start of more success for the young outfielder.
The Mariners continued to chop away at the A’s bullpen in the 7th when JP Crawford lined a double into right-center to score Dylan Moore from first, who had pinch hit for Mike Ford earlier in the inning. Following an intentional walk to Julio, Cal Raleigh avoided his fourth strikeout of the day with a nice single to left field, driving JP Crawford home and putting the Mariners up 4-0 in the 7th.
The Mariners drove in Julio with a single from Teoscar; Cal Raleigh hustled his way to third and Teoscar ended up at second as the A’s once again scrambled to get the ball in for a play at the plate that would not materialize. The seventh inning that wouldn’t end continued for the A’s as Cal scooted home on a wild pitch. The A’s answered back with a couple of runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Mariners, never ones to let a team have the last word, scored a seventh run in the top of the ninth on a JP Crawford solo shot, marking Crawford’s 16th on the season and extending his career highs in both home runs and RBIs.
With only four extra-base hits on the day, the Mariners still managed to hit the A’s for seven runs over the course of the game.
On top of a solid hitting performance, the Mariners were also blessed with a badly needed strong start from the one and only La Piedra. Luis Castillo dominated over the course of seven innings, giving an exhausted bullpen a much-needed break. Castillo tallied seven strikeouts, three walks and five hits and two earned runs over the course of the game. He struggled a little bit in the later innings, but the Rock does what he does, locking in and and dominating up and down the A’s lineup, tallying his 200th strikeout of the season along the way.
Luis Castillo, Wicked 85mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 20, 2023
200th K of the season. pic.twitter.com/KXaiDGCeLa
Servais spoke more post game on the importance of Castillo being able to go out there and dominate and his importance as a workhorse on this roster.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Castillo, as the A’s began to chip away in the seventh inning first with a double to left field by Aledmys Diaz, followed by a triple for Shea Langeliers, who would be brought home on a sac fly from Tyler Soderstrom. Castillo did manage to recover and ended the inning by striking out Nick Allen, but the A’s still managed to bring two across. Regardless of getting touched up a little in the 7th, Castillo logged his 18th quality start of the year, putting him four behind league leader Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees. Castillo was happy to have recorded his 200th strikeout of the year but was more focused on continuing to be the consistent workhorse for this team and is more interested in crossing the 200-inning threshold for the Mariners this year and carrying that strength and consistency into the playoffs.
In addition to helping himself out on the mound, Castillo also got some help from his defense, specifically this nifty Cal Raleigh throw/tag by Josh Rojas:
The seventh would mark the end of Castillo’s day as Matt Brash came in to pitch the 8th inning. Brash has been more reliable as the season has gone on and Servais made a point of mentioning Brash in the pre-game interview as someone who had committed to the club philosophy of attacking the zone to turn his season around.
Brash immediately forced a ground out for Tony Kemp before giving up a double to youngster Zach Gelof. Brash recovered, striking out Ryan Noda looking for his 102nd strikeout on the year, but then walked Seth Brown on a wild pitch, allowing Gelof to advance to third. While Brash has at times had great stuff, he still seems to struggle quite a bit with consistency, something he will hopefully continue to develop over time. Still, Brash got out of the inning unscathed, dominating the A’s with his power slider.
With a healthy lead, the the Mariners brought in Eduard Bazardo to finish off the game, who has so far only made five total appearances on the year for the Mariners. Beginning the season with Baltimore, Bazardo struggled mightily before being traded to the Mariners at the beginning of August. Bazardo seems to be another no name pitcher taking advantage of the Mariners pitching lab, having posted a 2.16 ERA across eight innings with the Mariners this year, as opposed to the 15.43 ERA Bazardo posted across two innings with Baltimore. Despite his fraught history this year, Bazardo pitched a clean inning, helping the Mariners claim a clean 7-2 victory over the A’s. With the an Astros loss on the night, the Mariners move back within half a game of Houston for the division and tie Texas for the third Wild Card spot.