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Seattle Mariners

Mariners wrap up road trip with disappointing series loss to Athletics

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

OAKLAND, Calif. – The road trip started with a disappointing series loss against a team they’ve dominated the last three seasons, and it ended in the cloudless Sunday sunshine of the Bay Area with another series loss against a team they’ve owned for the last two seasons.

For all of their success since mid-June, pushing them into this position in the standings and, of course, having the easiest remaining schedule in baseball, the Mariners’ quest to end a 21-year postseason drought isn’t going to be handed to them – even with an extra wild-card spot.

That realization hit them on this road trip like a fastball to the ribs, particularly over the last three days in Oakland.

On a day with their prized ace, Luis Castillo, on the mound, the Mariners seemed poised to end the trip with a win before heading into an offday Monday and a six-game homestand, which includes a huge four-game series with the Cleveland Guardians.

Instead, they were outplayed and outperformed by the rookie remnants and remaining survivors of a team that has had multiple fire sales to sell of established players – offseason and at the trade deadline – in a 5-3 loss to the Oakland A’s.

“They came out and played a good baseball game,” said Ty France. “They are out there to prove themselves.”

Even with the back-to-back wins over the Mariners, Oakland still has the worst record in the American League at 45-77. And only the Nationals, who the Mariners host for a two-game series, starting on Tuesday, have a worse record at 41-82.

“We know how important these games are and what they mean,” France said. “I think sometimes we are trying too hard and trying to make things happen instead of just playing our style of baseball. We are trying to force things when he don’t have to. Usually, when we go out there and play our game, we are in a good spot.”

For the first time since he was acquired by the Mariners, Castillo delivered a subpar outing. Making his fourth start for Seattle, he pitched just five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

It was the first time he failed to pitch six innings since June 22 when he was with the Reds, and it ended a string of eight straight quality starts (six-plus innings pitched, three runs or fewer allowed). The eight hits allowed were a season high for Castillo, who just couldn’t find the command of his pitches. His misses were either in the middle of the plate or well out of the strike zone.

Of his five innings, Oakland had the leadoff runner on base in four of them. He also threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 23 batters he faced while he threw balls on seven of 11 1-1 counts and also had seven three-ball counts in the outing.

The A’s jumped on Castillo in the first inning. Seth Brown doubled over Julio Rodriguez’s head in center and Sean Murphy followed with a double into left field. Castillo then hit Stephen Vogt with a bounced breaking ball in the leg. He avoided further damage by picking off Murphy at second for the second out.

Oakland added two more runs in the second. Castillo walked Jonah Bride to start the inning and gave up a double to touted prospect Shea Langeliers. Cal Stevenson drove in a run with sac fly to deep center and Nick Allen plated another run with a single to left.