SEATTLE – On a day when the energy hovered between low and “I’ve felt better in my life” and their eyes felt a little fuzzy from minimal sleep and maximum celebration, the Mariners rolled out a lineup similar to a mid-March Cactus League road game for Saturday afternoon.
But playing in front of another packed T-Mobile Park and knowing there is still a chance to earn the first wild-card spot and get a home series in their first postseason in 21 years, the Mariners pushed through any fatigue – mental, physical, emotional or potable – and picked up a 5-1 victory over the Oakland A’s.
“This is one of those games that with everything that happened last night, and you really felt it in the first inning for sure that we don’t win this game unless this building was pretty full today,” manager Scott Servais said.
“So a big shout out to the fans showing up today. That’s exactly what you need in the first inning of a game like that where you know everybody’s dragging after a long night last night. We came out and got on it right away.”
With the win, the Mariners improved to 87-70 on the season. While they clinched a spot in the postseason late Friday night in dramatic fashion and celebrated the accomplishment into Saturday morning, the Mariners still have additional goals before the season ends.
“The goal here is still working towards possibility of hosting that first round,” Servais said. “We need some help, obviously. If you look at the scoreboard, the Blue Jays continue to roll, but we’ll keep doing our thing, keep winning these games and keep it important right down to the final games is what we’re hoping for, There would be nothing sweeter than hosting a playoff game at home.”
The Blue Jays trounced the Red Sox 10-0 to offer no help for the Mariners. Seattle sits 1½ games back of Toronto with five games to play. The Blue Jays have one more game against the Red Sox and then finish the season with four games in Baltimore.
Seattle got a brilliant start from right-hander Luis Castillo, whose next outing will be in the wild-card series.
Castillo pitched six innings, allowing one run on just two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts to improve to 8-6 on the season and 4-2 with the Mariners.
“Probably the most stress-free game that we’ve had here in quite some time,” Servais said. “I felt with him out on the mound and how the game was going with the crowd into it today coming off last night, it was a nice, perfectly executed ballgame with a ‘W’ behind it.”
In a not entirely unexpected development, Castillo was a little shaky in the first inning. He gave up a single to Tony Kemp to start the game. After striking out Vimael Machin, Castillo issued his only walk of the game to Sean Murphy on five pitches. He came back to get Seth Brown to line out to right for the second out and seemed poised to work out of the inning unscathed. But Jordan Diaz connected on a 2-2 slider with an awkward swing that broke his bat and looped a single into right field that scored Kemp.
The one run allowed wasn’t due to lack of sleep.
“I actually slept pretty good,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “I was able to celebrate as much as I could with the personnel here, but I knew I was pitching today, so I kind of left early to be able to get enough sleep and perform today.”
Castillo didn’t allow another baserunner for the rest of his outing, striking out Conner Capel to end the inning and then working 1-2-3 innings the rest of his outing.
In his previous two outings vs. Oakland, Castillo had struggled, taking the loss in both starts while giving up eight runs on 14 hits in 9⅔ innings combined.
“Great to see Luis Castillo get back into kind of rolling along,” Servais said. “I thought his stuff was again outstanding today. Really good slider and he threw a few more sliders than maybe what he has recently.”
Besides the crowd, the intense play of Dylan Moore let his teammates know it wasn’t a giveaway game. He doubled to start the bottom of the first, made a hustle tag up on a flyball to right field and scored on Carlos Santana’s single.
“He’s got it rolling and you need guys going like that at this time of the year,” Servais said. “He really did set the tone today.”
The Mariners tacked on two more runs in the when Sam Haggerty dumped a two-run single into right field for a 3-1 lead.
Seattle picked up two more runs in the eighth inning on a Haggerty sac fly and sun double from Luis Torrens.
Relievers Matthew Boyd, Diego Castillo and Matt Festa each worked scoreless frames, allowing only one baserunner.
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