Mariners Takeaways from All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park
Jul 11, 2023, 9:51 PM | Updated: 9:59 pm
The 2023 MLB All-Star Game is in the books from T-Mobile Park, with the National League taking down the American League and its three Seattle Mariners All-Stars 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Colorado Rockies catcher Elías Díaz wound up winning game MVP honors thanks to his go-ahead two-run blast off Baltimore Orioles star closer Felix Bautista in the eighth inning.
But how about players representing the hometown Mariners: outfielder Julio Rodríguez and pitchers George Kirby and Luis Castillo?
Here’s how they did and what they said (or was said about them).
Julio passes baton, talks Ohtani chants
In his first at-bat of the All-Star Game, second-time All-Star Rodríguez struck out swinging.
Big ovation for Julio who tips his cap in appreciation. Julio chants broke out soon after this video ends. pic.twitter.com/RPeaTeKTLl
— Brandon Gustafson (@TheBGustafson) July 12, 2023
He got a very interesting chance late in the game, though, coming to the plate with two outs and the tying run on first base in Houston’s Kyle Tucker.
Rodríguez faced veteran closer Craig Kimbrel of the Philadelphia Phillies and quickly fell behind 1-2. But rather than tying or even winning the game, Rodríguez showed patience and wound up working a seven-pitch walk.
Oh boy 👀 Julio coming up with a chance to win it! pic.twitter.com/EQWISYcTHR
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 12, 2023
“Oh my god, that was unbelievable,” Rodríguez said of his ninth-inning plate appearance. “That was an unbelievable feeling. I would say we’ve had the playoff games and all that, but there was just something different about having an event with this crowd … It was just unbelievable to have all the stars here. And the energy the fans brought, it was unbelievable what they did. Seattle definitely showed out.”
While Rodríguez moved the line, he did admit he wanted to play hero.
“I was definitely trying to win it, but I was given a situation where I needed to pass the baton,” he said. “Once I saw (Tucker) get on first, my thought was just get a good pitch to drive and let’s try and win this game. But I had to pass the baton.”
A side story to Tuesday’s game was Mariners fans in attendance chanting “Come to Seattle” at star Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who is set to be a free agent after the season.
Ohtani himself admitted the chants caught his attention, and Rodríguez said he and the Japanese phenom did chat a bit this week.
“I did talk to him a little bit, but nothing specific about him coming to Seattle. Just asked him a couple questions,” Rodríguez said. “But (the chanting) was cool. That was pretty interesting whenever the whole city can combine themselves, they can do something pretty amazing. I thought it was pretty cool what they did when they came together to do that.”
So … what questions did Julio ask Ohtani?
“Secrets. You can’t know everything in life,” Rodríguez said with a laugh.
George Kirby’s All-Star debut
The overall statline may not be one to write home about, but Kirby will remember his first All-Star Game very fondly.
The second-year right-hander threw one inning, allowing a leadoff double to Dodgers slugger J.D. Martinez to left field in the fourth.
“Yeah, I don’t know why I threw a curveball there,” Kirby told reporters with a laugh. “Shoulda thrown a heater.”
Kirby then got Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado to ground out to third base. But Marlins star infielder Luis Arraez – who leads baseball with a .383 ERA – ambushed the first pitch he saw from Kirby for a single to right field, which scored Martinez from second.
After that, Braves catcher Sean Murphy flew out deep to the right field wall – prompting Texas’ Adolis Garcia to make his second leaping catch of the game – and Arraez was caught stealing at second base after replay review, ruling out a showdown between Kirby and Seattle native Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The hyper-competitive Kirby didn’t seem fazed or upset at all after allowing one run and some hard contact in his lone inning of work.
“I had a lot of fun today,” Kirby said. “I met a lot of good dudes, I learned a lot of different things today, I picked people’s brains. Just being around all those guys that I grew up watching was pretty cool. I’m still taking it all in.”
Of course, Kirby’s first All-Star Game being in Seattle at his home field of T-Mobile Park didn’t hurt at all. In fact, it amplified the experience.
“I’m just glad I did it my first time in front of Seattle fans,” he said. ” … Couldn’t ask for a better situation. I have family and friends here. It was really cool. A really special moment.”
Kirby drew a big ovation running out to the mound, as well as when he, Rodríguez and Castillo were introduced before the game.
It is Kirby time pic.twitter.com/M4m5411AtQ
— Brandon Gustafson (@TheBGustafson) July 12, 2023
“Yeah, that was cool. Really good cheers,” Kirby said. “Just really awesome to see that kind of support. Yeah, it was just freaking cool.”
Kirby clearly felt good out on the mound from a stuff perspective as he averaged 98 mph with his fastball and topped out at 99.5.
“I kind of did like my starter routine (before entering the game) – I feel like I threw a little too much, actually. But nah, I felt really good,” Kirby said. “Super comfortable. And like I said, I was really excited and glad that it was here in Seattle.”
Kirby also said we can expect to see more of that high-end fastball velocity in his coming starts.
“I’ve been (touching 99 mph) recently, so I’m gonna keep it up,” he said.
No Luis Castillo?
While Rodríguez received two at-bats and Kirby pitched the fourth inning, Seattle’s other All-Star rode the bench. But Castillo not pitching in his third All-Star Game appeared to be by design.
“Well, I had his manager (Scott Servais) sitting right next to me,” American League manager Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros joked when asked why Castillo didn’t pitch. “He was kind of (available only in) an emergency situation.”
Baker pointed to Castillo’s last start of the first half – which was seven innings in Houston last Thursday – as part of why he didn’t pitch.
“He pitched not long ago against us in our ballpark. You gotta take care of other guys’ players,” Baker said. “I was kind of shocked but pleased the fact that (Yankees ace and AL starter) Gerrit Cole wanted to pitch one inning because he just pitched on (Saturday). It was about preservation of another team’s player.”
Neither Castillo nor Servais spoke to media members after Tuesday’s game.
As you might imagine, T-Mobile Park has been packed the last two days.
Paid attendance for the All-Star Game was announced as 47,159, while it was 46,952 for Monday’s Home Run Derby. Both were announced as sellouts.
Next up for the Seattle Mariners
The M’s will have the next two days (Wednesday and Thursday) off to do as they please, then return from the All-Star break on Friday to kick off a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.
That series is part of a 10-game homestand that includes four games against the Minnesota Twins and a three-game weekend series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
More on Seattle Mariners’ MLB All-Star Game
• MLB All-Star Pregame Highlights: Intros, Astros booed, M’s legends
• ESPN’s Passan: ‘Showman’ Julio Rodríguez gave the show derby fans needed
• Seattle native Corbin Carroll soaks in hometown MLB All-Star debut
• Passan’s biggest All-Star surprise? Mariners fans’ hatred of Astros
• Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez: ‘Electric’ derby crowd ‘meant the world to me’