Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now
Seattle Mariners

Mariners turn winnable game into nine-inning slog vs. Yankees

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

NEW YORK – The game they needed to win was also a game they should win.

So, of course, the Mariners didn’t win.

Seattle slogged its way through nine forgettable innings, mustering all of two runs and losing 4-2 to what’s left of the Yankees in a game that didn’t even feel that close.

Manager Scott Servais, red-faced from what seemed to be a postgame discussion, was less than pleased with what he watched. His message to the team:

“We have to get better,” he said bluntly.

It’s likely there were a few more colorful words added into the postgame message given how clearly angry he was following a loss that dropped his team to 35-37.

“You can go any which way you want to go with it,” Servais said. “But it’s a collective group coming together and saying, ‘We’re really going to fight and compete.’ And we’re not doing that right now to the best of our ability.”

The randomness of baseball results and the vagaries of the day-to-day performances of players means that great teams will suffer bad losses throughout the course of a season and good teams will suffer a few more. Well, the Mariners are far from great, haven’t proven to be good and are fighting just to stay relevant.

Because of that season-long mediocrity, perhaps it’s illogical to expect the Mariners to win any game against any team.

Still, they were starting Luis Castillo on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, a place where he’s always pitched well, and he was facing a beaten-up Yankees squad that wouldn’t have Aaron Judge due to injury and Giancarlo Stanton and D.J. LeMahieu due to ineffectiveness in the lineup. New York was also starting rookie Jhony Brito, who had made nine starts and one relief appearance this season, posting a 3-3 record with an ERA of 5.58.

After getting dominated by Gerrit Cole in the series opener, which is somewhat understandable since he’s been the most dominant pitcher in the American League this season, the Mariners needed to win a game with their presumptive ace on the mound and a rookie starting for the Yankees, who are ahead of them in the wild-card standings.

So, of course, Castillo struggled through a pitch-filled outing, lacking any sort of command while giving up homers to Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney – the discount Bronx Bombers.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Brito pitched like an ace, tossing 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing just two hits – a single to Jose Caballero to start the game and a fifth-inning single to Jarred Kelenic – with a walk and three strikeouts.

“Every game is important, but when you’re playing against teams of this caliber, and how close we are to them (in the standings), we should put a little more emphasis on these games,” Servais said. “I’m not saying we need to put more pressure on ourselves, but we need to hold ourselves more accountable and treat these games as if they were playoff games.”

Castillo pitched five innings, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 103 pitches with the Yankees fouling off 22 . He allowed a base runner in every inning. The outing and his struggles to command his pitches were reminiscent of his three-start span in mid-May when he couldn’t locate his pitches to the edges and generate swings and misses.

“Bad outing for me,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “I don’t think I had the command with the four pitches and where I wanted to place them.”

Castillo issued a leadoff walk to the Yankees No. 9 hitter Anthony Volpe, who came into the game with a .191 batting average, to start the third inning. It brought Bauers to the plate. The one-time Mariner, who homered in the series in Seattle, worked a 3-2 count and smashed a 97-mph fastball on the inner half of the plate into the right field seats for a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees pushed the lead to 3-0 when Billy McKinney homered for the second straight game, sending a deep fly ball over the wall right on a 1-0 fastball in the middle of the plate.

“Uncharacteristic, for Luis, command-wise tonight,” Servais said. “A lot of deep counts and the Yankees had a very patient approach against him. The two home runs hurt, but I say all that and he still kept us in the game.”

New York pushed the lead to 4-0 in the seventh when Volpe hit a solo blast off Gabe Speier.

Seattle avoided being shut out when Dylan Moore launched a solo homer to left field for his first hit of the season. The Mariners made a last gasp in the ninth. With one out, Kelenic drove in a run on a sac fly off Tommy Kahnle. But Eugenio Suarez struck out to end the game.

“I don’t think we’re not playing terrible baseball, but we’re just not really getting as many hits with guys on base as we need to,” Ty France said. “I think it just comes down to that. We gave up four runs and I think we should be able to handle that.”

It was the 33rd time this season the Mariners scored three runs or fewer. They have a 9-24 record in those games. Servais and his staff have tried every possible way to get the team to buy into an all-against-one mentality when it comes to their team approach. It’s not happening with any consistency.

“You have to compete every night in this league,” Servais said. “I thought the last couple of innings our at-bats were better. But you’ve really got to fight from the first inning on. If you don’t, you’re not gonna be feeling good about it at the end of the game. We’re better than that. We know we are, and it needs to turn. We have four more games on this road trip against really good teams. We need to be more competitive.”