Luis Castillo pitches a gem and Ty France leads the offense with a game-high three hits, as the Mariners win the rubber match in the desert.
Jerry Dipoto and company have claimed they will be making no major trades ahead of Tuesday’s 3 pm PT deadline. Which is a shame, because this Mariners ballclub is finally showing more signs of life.
The Mariners are on a run of seven wins in their past 10 games, winning three consecutive series in the process. This includes the most recent series in Arizona, which arguably should have been a sweep.
Regardless, the Mariners took the rubber match on Sunday and went three games above .500 for just the third time this season. The issue is they are 4.5 games out of a playoff spot as of Monday morning — with a logjam in front of them — hence why Dipoto is loathe to do anything significant trade-wise.
This is not to say the current roster isn’t good enough, if they can continue to win more consistently. However, it would have been good to see the front office provide a boost for the team.
A happy anniversary
There has been some criticism this season from media and fans alike, regarding Castillo not performing like a staff ace at times. This narrative hasn’t been helped by the Mariners having a losing record in games he’s started.
However, this is more of a lack of consistent offensive support – an issue which has plagued all Mariners starters this season. In addition, keep in mind Castillo is on course for single-season career lows in ERA, WHIP and walk-rate.
In other words, no matter how frustrating the Mariners have been in general, any ire should not have been directed towards the 30-year-old. He’s more than held up his end of the bargain.
Outstanding start by Castillo
Along these lines, Castillo gave a sublime performance during Sunday’s game in the desert. He allowed just two hits and one walk in 6.0 shutout innings, to help the Mariners to victory.
The Dominican Republic native also generated 16 swings and misses, on his way to seven strikeouts. It’s form like this, which persuaded the Mariners to sign him to a five-year contract extension.
Castillo certainly sounds like someone who has no regrets. Speaking to the media through a translator, he said:
“It’s been great. I’ve built a family here with this team. I just go out there, do my job. I keep trying to perform as much as I can when I’m on the mound. Hopefully, God gives me enough health to just continue to perform.”
Castillo is also feeling great about the Mariners’ recent form, with them finishing their road trip with a 4-2 record. He said postgame:
“I felt that energy, a lot of good vibes. I felt them anxious to win and that’s why we’ve had the results we’ve had during this road trip.”
The righty believes the energy and vibes helped him on Sunday afternoon. He said:
“It gave me so much confidence. I came with more confidence in my pitch selection, commanding my strike zone and pitch location.”
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Mariners appreciation society
Mariners manager Scott Servais is certainly appreciative of what Castillo brings to the table. He said:
“What a trade. He has changed the whole demeanor around our pitching staff. He’s the rock, he’s who we lean on and he showed up today.”
Teammate J.P. Crawford also joined in with the (well-deserved) praise of Castillo. He said:
“He’s been pitching his (butt) off. He goes out there every time and gives a quality start. I’m happy we’re able to get some runs for him this time.”
Offense comes to play
In this respect, the Mariners’ run support came early versus the Diamondbacks. After loading the bases in the top of the first, a Mike Ford walk and Ty France single made it 2-0.
For France specifically, his RBI single was part of a game-high three hits on the day. He needed a performance like this, after his unexpected struggles in 2023.
Crawford extended the lead to 3-0 in the top of the second, with a solo blast. Eugenio Suarez then concluded the scoring, with a RBI single in the final inning.
Servais made sure to credit the offense, which has — quite rightly — come in for plenty of criticism this year. He said:
“I credit them when they’re super competitive, so that focus is tied to that. They know every at-bat counts, every inning counts. We’ve got to figure out a way to scratch and claw.”
Almost an afterthought — almost — the bullpen made sure to carry on where Castillo left off. Justin Topa, Matt Brash and Tayler Saucedo combined to pitch three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks, while striking out five in the process.
Moving forward, it’s a case of maintaining the intensity and continuing to win with more consistency, if the Mariners are to somehow clinch a playoff spot. Servais said:
“They understand where we’re at, and they want to push. They want to go for it, as they should.”
Next up, the Mariners host a three-game series versus a Red Sox team also fighting for their playoff lives. George Kirby will take the mound on Monday night, armed with his Major League-leading 9.33 strikeout to walk ratio.
Do you agree with the front office approach not to ‘go for it’ ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline? And assuming the roster remains the same, how confident are you they can continue to win more consistently and make the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.