Mariners: Castillo has longest outing of season when needed most

The Mariners even up their series with the Yankees after 13-inning marathon, courtesy of Luis Torrens’ walk-off RBI.

During a 162-game slog, it’s tough to pick just one contest that stands out as a defining moment in a season. At the very least however, Tuesday night’s game versus the Yankees certainly makes the shortlist for the Mariners in 2022.

The two ball clubs went back and forth for 13 intense innings, both displaying superior pitching and clutch defense. Finally though, when it was all said and done, the Mariners were left standing with a 1-0 win.

The win finally came thanks to a walk-off single, from Luis Torrens in the bottom of the 13th. Just to make the moment even more special, he was only in as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher, after the Mariners lost their DH with an earlier substitution. 

Torrens is set to lose his place as the backup catcher sooner than later to Curt Casali, so he made sure to appreciate the moment. Speaking to the media afterwards, he said:

“I feel awesome. It’s a great moment for me and for the team too, especially in a big game against the Yankees. The stadium was (rocking) and it was exciting.”

The fact that Torrens was even in a position to win the game in the first place was in large part down to the pitching, starting with Luis Castillo. With 8.0 innings, it was significant he was able to have his longest start of the year on a night when it was needed most.

While Castillo did not get the W, his team has won all three times he’s faced the Yankees this season. This includes a 7-3 victory in his debut last week for the Mariners.

The two-time All-Star was in a zone from the word go on Tuesday night, likely inspired in part by the electricity inside T-Mobile Park. His fastball was on and did not once go under 95 mph throughout his outing, while he didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until the bottom of the eighth.

By the time Castillo left the game, he had allowed just three hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Most significantly of all, he allowed no earned runs for the fourth time this season and first with the Mariners.

Castillo discussed his approach in games, alluding to how he seems to have pitched differently on each occasion he has faced the Yankees this year. Speaking to the media via a translator, he said:

“Every time I step on the mound I’m always there to compete, no matter what batter is in there. I start getting a rhythm during the game. The game ‘talks’ to me and depending on how it is going, this helps (determine) what I feel I should be throwing.”

As much as Castillo deserves plenty of credit, the bullpen once more played a major part. On the night, Andres Munoz, Paul Sewald, Matthew Festa and Matt Brash combined to pitch 5.0 inning and not even allow a hit never mind a run.

As per Tuesday night, the Mariners’ bullpen has been clutch all season. Entering Wednesday’s action, they rank first in the Majors in WHIP, third in batting average and ninth in ERA.

Overall, the Mariners became just the second team in AL/NL history to go 12 scoreless innings with three or fewer hits, zero for extra bases and 14-plus strikeouts. The only other ball club to do this was the Yankees’ New York rivals the Mets, in 1976.

Manager Scott Servais was unsurprisingly delighted with the combined efforts of Castillo and the bullpen. He said:

“The pitching in this game was unbelievable, on both sides … The velocity that we saw in this game tonight is the best pitching I’ve ever seen in a Major League game. I’ve managed over 1,000. I’ve been around thousands of these games, and that’s as good as it gets.”

The final part of this team effort was the aforementioned play of the defense. To give some idea of how good they were, the Mariners twice recorded three outs while only facing two hitters, including the best play of the night in the 12th inning.

Brash initiated an insane double play, when he instinctively grabbed a comebacker from Isiah Kiner-Falefa behind his back. Jose Trevino was caught in a rundown between second and third base, followed by Eugenio Suárez throwing to Adam Frazier to tag Kiner-Falefa, as he was headed to second.

The lack of offense continues to be a concern, although on the whole they do just enough the majority of the time. At least Mitch Haniger is contributing consistently with hits in all five games since his return, while Julio Rodriguez is expected back soon, potentially this weekend.

Overall though, the Mariners continue to show heart and fight. They now have the chance on Thursday to clinch their first season series win over the Yankees since 2002 and will send Robbie Ray to the mound.

Do you agree with Servais’ assertion that Tuesday night was one of the best games he’s ever seen, especially considering there was only one run? How much do you think his opinion was influenced by the postseason-level atmosphere within the ballpark. Let us know in the comments section below.

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