Mariners Lineup: Ray gets ball vs old team with ALDS in reach
After a resounding 4-0 victory on Friday, the Mariners look to sweep the best-of-three series in Toronto on Saturday, which would clinch a spot in the American League Division Series against AL West rival Houston.
Game 2 coverage started at 10 a.m. on Seattle Sports 710 AM with a special two-hour, pre-pregame show with M’s analyst and former MLB pitcher Ryan-Rowland Smith joining hosts Bob Stelton and Mike Salk live at Hatback, just across the street from T-Mobile Park. Pregame will follow at noon, with first pitch on Seattle Sports set for 1:07 p.m.
Luis Castillo got the ball in Game 1 for Seattle and was nearly perfect, spinning 7 1/3 scoreless innings while hardly breaking a sweat and flat-out dominating the Blue Jays’ dangerous lineup.
Castillo came over as a trade deadline acquisition midseason, and he’ll be followed up by the Mariners’ prized offseason acquisition of Robbie Ray, the 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner. Ray will look to send the Mariners to the next round, and he’ll do so against the team he won the Cy Young with a year ago.
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Ty France, 1B
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Cal Raleigh, C
Mitch Haniger, RF
Adam Frazier, 2B
Carlos Santana, DH
Jarred Kelenic, LF
J.P. Crawford, SS
Robbie Ray, SP
Blue Jays Lineup
George Springer, CF
Bo Bichette, SS
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B
Alejandro Kirk, DH
Teoscar Hernández, RF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Danny Jansen, C
Whit Merrifield, LF
Santiago Espinal, 2B
Kevin Gausman, SP
• Not much is different about Seattle’s Game 2 lineup. It’s the same nine players, but Frazier has moved up from the eighth spot to the sixth spot, sliding both Santana and Kelenic down one spot.
• Ray didn’t make the trip to Toronto in May, but he did face his old team at T-Mobile Park in July, allowing just one run on two hits over six innings in a Mariners win. Seattle swept that four-game series, which played a part in Toronto parting ways with manager Charlie Montoyo. In 32 starts and 189 innings in 2022, Ray had 212 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA.
“It’s going to be interesting, for sure,” Ray said Friday of facing his former team. “I faced them earlier in the year and had some success, but obviously this lineup is a really good lineup and they can hit the ball really well. So I think for me it’s just focusing on one pitch at a time – that’s my game plan going into every single game – and executing one pitch and not trying to be two or three pitches ahead of guys. I just need to focus on what I need to accomplish and that’s executing one pitch at a time.”
• Countering Ray for Toronto is Gausman, who essentially replaced Ray on the Blue Jays roster. Shortly after Ray signed a five-year, $115 million deal with Seattle, Gausman signed a five-year, $110 million deal with Toronto. Gausman has pitched well this year, posting a 3.35 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 174 2/3 innings over 31 starts. He notably left his last start with a cut on his right middle finger. Gausman faced the Mariners once this season, allowing two runs on seven hits over five innings and a home run to Raleigh, which was the first long ball Gausman allowed this season.
• With Castillo working 7 1/3 innings on Friday and Andrés Muñoz getting the last five outs, the Mariners’ bullpen is in fabulous shape entering Game 2 with every reliever aside from Muñoz as fresh as you could hope for.
• The Blue Jays didn’t play Espinal in Friday’s game, but the 2022 All-Star starter is back in the lineup Saturday for the first time since Sept. 21. He’s been sidelined with an oblique injury.
• If the Mariners win Saturday – or in a potential Game 3 on Sunday – they would pack their bags and head to Houston. Regardless of whether the Wild Card series ends after two or three games, Game 1 of the ALDS in Houston is scheduled for Tuesday, so the winner of Seattle-Toronto will have at least one full day off on Monday. If a Game 3 in this series is necessary, Logan Gilbert is the expected starter for Seattle.