7.1 innings from starting pitcher Luis Castillo combined with 1.2 innings from Andrés Muñoz led the Mariners to their first playoff victory since October 20th, 2001. The Mariners picked up three runs in the first, and one in the fifth as they blanked the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 to open up the Wildcard round.
The game got started with Julio Rodríguez getting beaned on the fourth pitch of his first at bat. Ty France followed that up with a grounder to second that moved the rookie up. Eugenio Suárez slapped a double down the first base line that scored Rodriguez.
And then, Cal happened.
Castillo took a three run lead and absolutely ran with it. The first inning was three straight grounders, which was the theme throughout his start. He pitched to contact and it routinely worked for him.
The second inning saw that exact thing happen as a pair of singles came off of weak contact. But he successfully pitched out of danger. Alejandro Kirk’s lead off single was wiped off the board when Teoscar Hernandez ground into a double play; Matt Chapman hit a single but it mattered not as Seattle’s starter quickly retired the next batter.
Another jam sprang up in the bottom of the third for the 29 year old when George Springer and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back singles with two outs, which sent Vlad Guerrero Jr. to the plate with two outs and two runners on. It was a situation that was primed for collapse…if you’re a believer in “same ol’ Mariners.”
Castillo quickly shut down the Blue Jays when he induced a relatively weak fly ball to center.
Rodríguez was hit by a pitch in his second at bat of the game. He would advance to third on an opposite field single by France — probably would have scored if he had relied on Manny Acta instead of his attempt to find the ball. It was at this point that Blue Jays’ starter Alex Manoah was pulled after a disappointing start that didn’t see him settle down until the third. Suárez would follow the pitching change with a soft grounder to third that really only left Chapman with a play at second base.
Toronto would threaten in the bottom of the fifth when Whit Merrifield singled and Springer reached on an infield error; but it mattered not as Castillo got out of it again.
While their prized trade deadline cruised for the M’s, Toronto chewed through its bullpen arms. Five relief pitchers were used throughout the course of the game, in a three-game series with a short pen…that’s huge news for the Mariners. Toronto’s relief pitchers kept Seattle off the board, but the lack of insurance runs didn’t matter. Castillo found an extra gear in the sixth as he stuffed the Jays line-up in that frame; before he struck out the side in the seventh.
In the end, it was a two seamer that got away from him and hit Springer in the hand to put an end to his outing. Muñoz came in at that point and shut down the Blue Jays’ bats. That included two strikeouts to start off the ninth before he got a grounder to Adam Frazier to close out Seattle’s first win in the postseason since 2001.
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