BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Luis Castillo does the nearly impossible as Mariners silence Blue Jays

Oct 7, 2022, 4:29 PM | Updated: 8:38 pm
Mariners Luis Castillo...
Mariners pitcher Luis Castillo walks off the field at the end of the sixth inning on Oct. 7, 2022. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

There are a lot of words to describe what Luis Castillo just did in the Mariners’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the franchise’s first playoff game since 2001.

Mariners Fast Facts: Seattle dominates playoff return, beats Blue Jays 4-0

Masterful, nasty, diabolical, filthy, disgusting, mean and incredible are just a few that come to mind.

But if one word encapsulates what Castillo did Friday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd in Toronto, it’s “dominant.”

Castillo’s final line? Oh, just 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball while allowing just seven baserunners on six hits and one hit batter. None of those six hits went for extra bases, either.

M’s take series lead – quotes and full recap

Castillo is a power pitcher, and he’s known for recording strikeouts at a pretty high rate.

That wasn’t the case in Toronto, though, as he was regularly getting weak groundouts and flyouts against the Blue Jays’ dangerous lineup. He did strike out the side in the seventh, though, absolutely dominating the bottom half of Toronto’s lineup.

Toronto ranks at or near the top of baseball in most offensive categories. The Blue Jays hit a ton and they can really hit the ball out of the ballpark. But they are tough to strikeout.

Castillo didn’t care, as he did everything he wanted throughout the outing while dominating in the biggest start of his career and the biggest Mariners game in more than two decades.

There’s a case to be made that Castillo’s outing was the best postseason performance in franchise history, ranking up there with Randy Johnson’s complete game win over the Angels in the 1995 AL West tiebreaker. Per Alex Mayer of the Mariners, Castillo is the first pitcher in franchise history to throw seven or more scoreless innings in a playoff game.

The Jays were fourth in baseball in runs per game this season, and they also paced baseball in average exit velocity. That’s worth noting as not only did Toronto fail to score at all on Friday, but the Blue Jays barely made Castillo sweat.

Toronto reached scoring position just twice in the series opener, and its dangerous lineup recorded only four hard-hit balls (95+ mph exit velocity) off Castillo. And, again, no extra-base hits.

Castillo’s electric arsenal was up a whole notch, too. Per Statcast, Castillo’s fastball velocity was 1.5 mph faster than his average this year and his sinker velocity was up 1.7 mph. He carried that velocity throughout the game, reaching triple digits five times and hitting 98 mph or higher regularly in his final innings.

The Mariners went out and acquired Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds in late July to help anchor a playoff rotation. It cost the M’s plenty in terms of prospect capital, but he impressed the organization so much they rewarded him with a contract extension worth more than $100 million over five to six years.

What Castillo did Friday was above and beyond what was expected of him. And he did something that seemed nearly impossible: he silenced a sellout crowd at the Rogers Centre.

Blue Jays games can get wild, and some of baseball’s loudest moments in the playoffs in recent years have come in Toronto. One of the biggest reasons why the Jays getting homefield advantage for this round was so big for them was because of that atmosphere.

But thanks to three early runs in the first inning and Castillo hardly working a sweat, the crowd really didn’t get into this game as expected.

Watch: Mariners open return to playoffs with Cal Raleigh homer

Take a freaking bow, Castillo. Thanks to “La Piedra,” the Mariners take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-three series, and he has helped the M’s enter Game 2 and a potential Game 3 in a great place when it comes to their bullpen.

Everything the Mariners could have asked for and then some. Goodness gracious.

More Mariners coverage from Seattle Sports

GM Justin Hollander: Mariners do 4 things that ‘drive postseason success’
Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Excitement, not nerves, evident for M’s in Toronto
Mariners-Blue Jays a battle of strengths with Seattle’s arms and Toronto’s bats
How Seattle’s starting rotation looks for Wild Card series
The defining factors in playoff series between M’s and Blue Jays

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Luis Castillo does the nearly impossible as Mariners silence Blue Jays