Luis Castillo sensational in Seattle Mariners home debut


Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo pumps his fist after the top of the seventh inning of the team’s baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


Meet your ace, Seattle fans. This is why the Mariners traded for Luis Castillo at the deadline: the swagger, the dazzling slider that makes opposing hitters look silly, the dominant fastball that seems to defy physics, the filthy sinker. And above all else, the commanding presence on the mound, the I’m-better-than-you attitude, mowing down batter after batter.

For the first time, Mariners fans got a live view of Castillo as he made his home debut at T-Mobile Park against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. He was sensational, throwing eight innings, allowing just three hits, no runs, walking two and striking out seven.

He clapped into his glove as he walked off the field after the eighth inning, forcing an Isiah Kiner-Falefa ground ball and stranding a pair of Yankees base runners. The crowd roared, giving the 29-year-old a well-deserved ovation.

“Every time I step up on the mound, I’m always there to compete, no matter what batter is in there,” Castillo said. “The game, I start getting a rhythm and the game talks to me. Depending on how the game is going is what I feel I should be throwing.”

Seattle walked the game off in the bottom of the 13th inning with a Luis Torrens single to beat New York, 1-0 and even the series at a game apiece. With two outs and the bases loaded, Torrens came in the game to pinch hit and delivered the only run Seattle would need.

“I was thinking of making good contact and once I made good contact, saw the ball go past the second baseman,” Torrens said. “That’s the opportunity we always dream: bases loaded, two outs. I just believed in God and all the process. That’s a great moment for me.”

It ended a four hour, seven minute long, fascinating game, marked by some comically bad Yankees baserunning. Perhaps the highlight: a comebacker to reliever Matt Brash in the top of the 12th, which turned into a 1-6-5-4 double play (that’s pitcher to the shortstop, to the third baseman, to the second baseman). Brash made the behind the back grab on the comebacker, perhaps for the first time ever.

“I used to try to do that (play) back in Canada I never got it,” Brash said, laughing. “I just saw it, did it. I felt it hit my glove, I didn’t know if I had it in my glove. Once I did, instinct kind of just took over from there.”

Even with the rule of the runner starting on second base in extra innings, neither team was able to score until the Mariners finally ended the game in the bottom of the 13th.

It looked like the Castillo outing might end up with the Felix Hernandez treatment, as the other guy was just as good on Tuesday. Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out eight. He threw 72 of his 109 pitches for strikes.

“That’s one of the best major league games I’ve ever watched,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “The pitching in this game was unbelievable on both sides. Starting with the starters. What Luis Castillo fired out there against one of the better offensive teams in the league was incredible. Gerrit Cole matched him and it was back and forth.”

That back and forth with Cole kept Castillo pumping gas all the way through the eighth inning.

“You know, even though we’re both up there, both dominating, it kind of gives me that extra boost to go out there and give it my all,” Castillo said. “I thank God everything was able to be executed correctly.”

In Castillo, Seattle got the top pitcher available in the market. Cincinnati obtained infielders Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, and right-handers Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore. Marte was the Mariners’ top-rated prospect, Arroyo was third and Stoudt fifth. It was a sizable haul, but the early returns indicate it was well worth it.

“We’ll see how it all plays out, but what a trade,” Servais said. “When you get that type of quality pitcher at the top of your rotation, I don’t think anybody should look back. I tip my cap to our front office for going for it. This guy is a front line starter and it’s fun to watch.

“These are the best hitters in the world and they know it’s coming and they can’t make contact with it. And even if they do, they don’t square it up on the barrel. That says a lot. He’s got the secondary pitches to go with it. Unbelievable job by him.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the game. After taking a photo with Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and others, he threw a respectable lob to Mariners manager Scott Servais.

He was greeted with mostly applause and some scattered boos, a sign of the polarizing times we live in. Fauci has been the face of the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic and a vocal advocate for vaccines.

The 38,804 fans in attendance certainly got their money’s worth. Better believe the Mariners felt their energy, too.

“That was the coolest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Brash said. “The atmosphere was what we want. I know that come playoff time, that’s what it’s going to be like every night.”

This story was originally published August 9, 2022 11:22 PM.

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner and Gonzaga University graduate, Manley has covered the South Sound sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.

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