Castillo, Suarez and Co. Help M’s Stay Hot, Win Series Against Pirates

Following a clean, four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, the Mariners welcomed in the Pittsburgh Pirates to continue the ten-game, no day-off home stand. The weekend series featured an early home run derby, in favor of the away team, despite a really good pitching matchup going in. The following games went Seattle’s way, with a brilliant performance by Luis Castillo, and an extra innings thriller to wrap up the series. Now winners of seven of their last ten, the M’s welcome in Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees to T-Mobile Park to close out the home stand tonight on Memorial Day.

But before we get to the “Bronx Bombers”, here’s an in-depth look at all three versus the Pirates, starting with Friday night’s matchup, that featured George Kirby and Mitch Keller.

This wasn’t your typical low-scoring pitching matchup, in fact, it was the complete opposite. Veteran Andrew McCutchen jumped on Kirby’s second pitch of the game and put it into the bullpen. A half inning later, and with two outs, it was Julio’s turn. The Home Run Derby runner-up from last year is catching fire again at the plate, mimicking his performance from last season’s ROTY campaign. His opposite-field solo home run tied this game up at one.

Bottom two, and Taylor Trammell finally found a snippet of success at the plate. Though struggling since his return to the Majors, he knocked in Cal Raleigh on a sharp base hit in the second to give Seattle a one-run lead.

In the fourth, it was old-friend Carlos Santana who got ahold of a George Kirby slider and tied this game at two with a solo home run to right. Unfortunately for the M’s, Pittsburgh stayed hot.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Seattle Mariners

Carlos Santana points to the sky as he reaches home plate after his solo home run Friday night. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

A two-run triple by Bryan Reynolds, a two-run home run by Jack Suwinski, a solo home run by Ke’Bryan Hayes all occurred in the fifth. Pittsburgh had a five-run advantage, and rode that wave up until the finish.

It was George Kirby’s worst performance of his second season, where he allowed nine hits, seven earned on four home runs. Pittsburgh went on to smack seven home runs Friday night, tying a Pirates’ franchise record, as they took the opener by a score of 11-6.

Looking to help the team rebound from Friday, and also looking to keep momentum after his previous start against Oakland, it was La Piedra day Saturday afternoon. Luis Castillo toed the rubber against righty Vince Velasquez.

After allowing a double on the second pitch of the game to Tucupita Marcano, Luis Castillo said enough with this funny business, and decided to not allow a second hit for the remainder of his start. It was pure dominance on a sunny Seattle Saturday.

Looking to back Castillo early in this one, it was a doubles party early. J.P. Crawford lead off double, Ty France RBI double, and a Teoscar Hernandez RBI double (with a Eugenio Suarez check-swing RBI single sandwiched in between), had Seattle up 3-0 after one.

That was all Castillo needed and more. Julio Rodriguez added another an inning later on, get this, an RBI double. It was a four-run advantage, for a pitcher who allowed three total base runners over six innings. La Piedra struck out ten Pirates, and after his exit, the bullpen struck out seven more collectively (17 total), as Seattle took game two of three against the Pirates in shutout fashion, 5-0.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Seattle Mariners

Luis Castillo, also known as "La Piedra", pumps his fist after his tenth strikeout Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Rubber match Sunday afternoon of the long weekend, and it was lefty Marco Gonzales looking to help Seattle with in their second-consecutive home series. His competition? Hard-throwing lefty Luis L. Ortiz for the Pirates.

Yet anther new episode of the “J-Rod Show” aired early Sunday. His ninth home run of the season was a 108-MPH moonshot just out of the reach of Pittsburgh’s Connor Joe, and Seattle was up by one in the blink of an eye.

Fast forward a few innings, as Marco is dealing, and the “Big Dumper” steps to the dish. Cal’s 107-MPH rainbow shot was eerily similar to Julio’s, and on two solo bombs, it was 2-0 M’s.

A sacrifice fly in the fifth for Pittsburgh narrowed the two-run lead to one, until Jarred Kelenic had something to say about it. A half inning later, and JK’s opposite-field double scored J.P. Crawford.

Marco’s day was done after 5.2, where he allowed just one earned run on three hits, striking out four. Bryan Reynolds grounded a triple into the right field corner off of Justin Topa, that scored Andrew McCutchen, and with one out in the eighth, Seattle brought in Paul Sewald to attempt to limit the damage.

On a full count to Jack Suwinski, Sewald’s sweeper pitch went between the leg’s of catcher Tom Murphy, and it was a 3-3 ball game. Both teams couldn’t push a run across in the ninth, and free baseball was in effect Sunday as this one headed to extras.

Taylor Saucedo, a Tahoma High School graduate, was thrown into the fire for his toughest test as a Seattle Mariner. After allowing a base hit to Bryan Reynolds, Saucedo did nothing but strike out the side in the tenth to give Seattle the chance to win it in the home half. He was fired up, as his third K of the inning not only kept the tie in tact, but handed Ke'Bryan Hayes the golden sombrero.

After Ty France moved the runner in to third with one out, Julio struck out. But with two down, it was all about the good vibes only. Eugenio Suarez mashed a Robert Stephenson slider off of the out-of-town scoreboard in left. His three-run walk off home run was Seattle’s first walk off winner of the season. A 6-3 victory, and a series win has now pushed Seattle past the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Seattle Mariners

Teoscar Hernandez drenches Eugenio Suarez with a variety of Gatorade flavors after his walk-off home run Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

The M’s are now three games over .500 for the first time in the 2023 campaign as they welcome in the Yankees. Both Seattle and New York are winners in seven of their last ten, and whenever the Yanks come to town, you know it is bound to be an electric series, especially inside of the electric factory.

Pitching probables for NYY @ SEA:

  • Mon 5/29, 6:40 PM PT: RHP Bryce Miller (3-1, 1.15 ERA) vs RHP Domingo German (2-3, 3.75 ERA)
  • Tues 5/30, 6:40 PM PT: RHP Logan Gilbert (3-2, 3.60 ERA) vs LHP Nestor Cortes (4-2, 5.30 ERA)
  • Weds 5/31, 6:40 PM PT: RHP Luis Castillo (4-2, 2.69 ERA) vs RHP Clarke Schmidt (2-5, 5.58 ERA)

American League West standings as of Monday morning:

  • 1.Texas Rangers (33-19)
  • 2.Houston Astros (31-21), 2.0 GB
  • 3.Seattle Mariners (28-25), 5.5 GB
  • 4.Los Angeles Angels (28-26), 6.0 GB
  • 5.Oakland Athletics (10-45)

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