Mariners offense works hard to impress new kid in class on New York field trip, wins 7-3

As a giant-sized nerd, I loved back-to-school: freshly-fallen snow from a crisp, new ream of paper, color-coded binders by subject (AP US History is red, of course, and geometry is obviously green), a set of fresh pens that have never known the grime of the bottom of a backpack. But back to school was also an opportunity to reinvent myself, new classes with new people; a chance to make a good friend or, failing that, at least to convince my new classmates that I could pass as cool, or cool-adjacent. First impressions are a gift not to be taken lightly, and the Mariners and Luis Castillo seemed determined to impress each other heading into the Series Finals at Yankee Stadium.

In addition to the left-on-base woes, my other major complaint about this offense was not punishing struggling pitchers early, allowing them to get into a rhythm and navigate. Theoretically, you can’t win the game in the first inning, except today the Mariners did, punishing Gerrit Cole for a lack of command in a runaway state in the first. Today was a huge win for the ‘stuff doesn’t matter if you can’t locate’ crowd, as Cole’s stuff was vintage Cole wicked: 98-100 easily with a wicked slider; his 23 swing-and-misses currently lead all baseball for today. But in that first run, Cole couldn’t get his stuff under control. He walked Jesse Winker five pitches, not particularly close, after allowing a first hit to Adam Frazier, who continues to warm up; he added two more hits today. Cole then tried to steal a first pitching strike against Eugenio Suárez, but left a 90 MPH slider right in the middle of the plate that Suárez, uh, didn’t miss:

This came off the bat at 109.4 mph, currently making it the fourth hardest-hit ball in baseball today, behind hitters Yordan Álvarez and Randy Arozarena.

Cole then led a masterclass in not responding to adversity, trying to buckle up against Carlos Santana but leaving 99 in the middle of the plate for Santana to rocket off the court. Ok, so the slider wasn’t working, and mid-plate fastballs aren’t a good idea; how about change?

Gerrit my man, the problem is not the locations, the problem is the location. It was actually a two-run homer as JP Crawford hit a single, lining up an opposite knuckle curve, which gave the Mariners one hit on each of Cole’s various pitches that inning. Eventually Sam Haggerty, the ninth man at the plate, retired to end the inning, and Cole settled in over the next five innings, pitching like his usual ace as he racked up eight strikeouts and n didn’t issue another ride nor give another run. It actually came a little before a clean run at one point. Unfortunately for Cole and the Yankees, the Mariners had their own ace today, and he did so with a career-first six-point lead before even stepping onto the mound.

There was a lot of talk on social media about the Mariners ‘overpaying’ for Luis Castillo, and the cost of the prospect was undeniably high, but it wasn’t an overpayment, because there is no overpayment in a commercial market. , just what the team is willing to pay. The Yankees balked on Castillo because they didn’t want to part with their prized shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe; the Mariners were ready to build a package around Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo. It’s the riskiest trade we’ve seen from Jerry Dipoto, in that it has the greatest possibility of looking like a major loss in a few years if one or both of Marte and Arroyo become stars. , but Today’s Play explained the willingness to pay such a bounty as it underscored the importance of what acquiring an ace-level pitcher like Castillo does for the Mariners. It all starts with the offense taking advantage of Cole’s command taking a powder for an inning, but it ends with Luis Castillo going toe to toe, ace to ace with Cole, making sure the Yankees offense didn’t have chance to get back into this game even if Cole found his order.

Things didn’t start out smoothly, exactly, as Castillo had to fight both his command and the abstract expressionist painting known as home plate umpire CB Bucknor’s strike zone; it took him 17 pitches, with just 10 strikes, to clear the first inning, and he needed help from a great charging game from JP to keep the ever annoying DJ LeMahieu off the bases and as well as working around from a brace from Matt Carpenter. Round two was much the same, with Castillo opening with a walk to Andrew Benintendi before collecting his first strikeout as a Mariner, absolutely obliterating Gleyber Torres on three pitches, all at 98-99 MPH:

After taking Aaron Hicks to the ground on recorded pitch at 100 MPH, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was able to fight off 98 from Castillo and smack him into center field, scoring Benintendi, who had swept up second. Castillo was then bailed out again by his defense after giving up a brace, again on a fastball that over-grabbed home plate, to Kyle Higashioka, but Jesse and JP said NO:

Maybe he was emboldened by the quality of the defense playing behind him, but after that inning Castillo got into the zone more and started attacking the batters early in the count. In the first two innings, he threw first-pitch strikes to just four of the nine batters faced; over the next two innings that number rose to four of six as he also racked up four of his strikeouts on the day over innings three and four, including his first Mariners strikeout on the ball not fast, this beauty of a slider in Rizzo:


As the Mariners offense ran into a resurgent Cole, Castillo did what a frontline pitcher is supposed to do and kept the Yankees’ powerful offense in line. He had to go around a few steps – one which was his fault, a four step walk from DJ LeMahieu in the fifth, and one in the sixth which was not his fault but following two blast calls from CB Bucknor in a very tough fight with Matt Carpenter – and seemed to tire some of them in the seventh, where his front shoulder started opening up on some of his shifts and it looked like he just wasn’t finishing his throws. Castillo fought for his eighth strikeout of the day against Aaron Hicks, making him look for a well-spotted slider, but it took seven pitches. He then returned a hard-hit ground ball that smoked past Carlos Santana off Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s bat, and made a bad first-pitch slider to Kyle Higashioka who crashed into the seats, the second hit extra-base Higashioka of the day. off Castillo, cutting the Mariners lead to 7-3 and making that little insurance solo home run by Jesse Winker that had occurred at the top of the inning all the more important.

That ended Castillo’s day at 6.2 innings – a light day for the workaholic, who consistently works through the seventh and throws over 100 pitches, to which I gently suggest: what if not? What if he just doesn’t. Because the Mariners have a pretty good bullpen, as demonstrated today: Ryan Borucki put away the back of the seventh, Matt Festa worked another scoreless inning in front of friends and family in his hometown (# gabagoolpower), and Paul Sewald—who the Yankees the show was very salty about seeing in a no-save situation, suggesting that “Servais must really want to win this game” (??? Yes??? He wants to? ??That??) – closed the ninth as he had a margarita and a binge session of The Bear waiting for him on the plane home.

It was fun to see Castillo laughing and smiling with his new (and old!) teammates in the dugout, shaking hands with Servais and appreciating the fine defense behind him, like that game where JP clearly showed up for the newbie.

Ah, the honeymoon phase of a new relationship where you both try to impress each other. Today everyone showed up and showed off like it was the first day of school, filled with fresh outfits and brilliant defense and Gold Glove teammates, new and old, starting something something new and cool together. It’ll be fun to see what it looks like when the kids come home from their trip to the big city and we see them all building this cool thing together, right before our eyes.

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