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Mariners Game #156 Preview, 9/25/23: HOU at SEA

Luis Castillo tries to right the Mariners’ listing ship, opposed by an old not-friend

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

There are two players I desperately wanted out of the AL West: one looks ticketed for the NL West (so excited to be able to appreciate Shohei from a distance, finally), and the other was gone for a few short blissful months before returning like a bad penny. It’s probably not entirely Justin Verlander’s fault he’s come to symbolize, for me, the gap between the Astros and Mariners over the past few years, from the savvy trade that brought him there to the Astros’ superior player development (different from personnel development, to be clear) to his supermodel wife pictured beside him lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy, all of it a glamorous dream of dominance and relevance that felt so far away for these Mariners, background players in the Astros’ dominance. And then of course there’s his performance on the field, the constant shellacking the Mariners have endured at his hands. And now he’s back, back again, to likely retire as an Astro.

But this is not the same version of Verlander who has been terrorizing the Mariners over the years; his velocity is somewhat diminished and his strikeouts somewhat down. Meanwhile, the Mariners will be sending the fruits of their own savvy trade to the mound in Luis Castillo, a Cy Young contender who’s provided a safe harbor for the Mariners when they’re spiraling out of control. Castillo will need to be that player again tonight to stop a slide that started with a sweep in Texas over the weekend, but more importantly, the offense needs to start putting together some better at-bats, and quickly, or it won’t matter how well Castillo pitches—see Logan Gilbert’s heroic start in vain this past Saturday.

Lineups:

Milestone watch:

José Caballero needs two more stolen bases to take over second place in team history for stolen bases by a Mariners rookie, moving past James Jones (27, 2014) but well-trailing the leader Ichiro (56, 2001).

Today’s game information:

Tonight’s game starts at 6:40 PT. As a reminder, all games this week are evening games—there are no day games until Sunday (and Saturday, if you count an earlier start time of 4:15 PT as a say game). Tomorrow’s game is a 7:05 start, but Wednesday is back to 6:40. Schedule hijinks!

Today in Mariners history:

  • 1991: The Mariners cross the 2-million mark in attendance for the first time.
  • 1992: In a 16-inning game, the Mariners and Texas combine to use 54 players and 11 pitchers—both Major League records. The Mariners use 29 players, a new club record. The Mariners eventually defeat the Raingers, 4-3; time of game was a tidy 5:08.
  • 2012: Justin Smoak homered from both sides of the plate in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.
  • 2014: Logan Morrison hit a pair of home runs and recorded 4 RBI in a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays to snap a 5-game losing streak.