Mariners lose despite 3 HRs, stellar start from Castillo

August 28th, 2022

SEATTLE -- Frustration boiled over when was ejected in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Guardians, an all-encapsulating moment to an aggravating night in which Seattle saw a two-run lead evaporate in the eighth inning.

Andrés Muñoz, who’s been among the game’s best leverage relievers, surrendered three runs for the first time since he gave up a walk-off grand slam in a May 22 outing in Boston, and the Mariners weren’t able to overcome just three hits, despite all of them leaving the yard.

The Mariners became the only MLB team in the Modern Era to hit three-plus homers in a game, but have no other baserunners, according to STATS, with blasts from Julio Rodríguez, Eugenio Suárez and Jake Lamb, the first for the Seattle native since he was acquired at the Trade Deadline. And it was shaping up to be a big one for insurance before Cleveland rallied late with impressive execution.

Here’s how they rallied off Muñoz:

• Steven Kwan drew a full-count walk, but only after a borderline call in a 2-2 count went Kwan’s way.

• Amed Rosario hit an inside-out single on a 100.8 mph fastball in on his hands, an impressive display of hitting.

• José Ramírez punched a 101.1 mph fastball above the zone for an opposite-field, run-scoring double.

• Josh Naylor hit a groundout to first baseman Lamb, but the speedster Rosario scored easily.

• Andrés Giménez hit a flyout, but it was deep enough for a sacrifice that led to the game-winning run.

“You can see how good of stuff Muñoz has,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “You don't see [Ramírez] hit the ball down the left-field line very often. And he drops that slider like [Emmanuel] Clase. That's a pretty impressive inning for us because that kid is really, really good.”

Muñoz has been so solid with traffic, but there was enough evidence to suggest that Saturday’s showing was an outlier and more emblematic of one of MLB’s best contact-hitting teams striking late. Muñoz, after all, bested Ramírez in an epic, late-innings battle in the series opener, but the four-time All-Star Ramírez won the rematch.

The Mariners had the chance to respond in the eighth, but they were bit by another tight call when J.P. Crawford, in a 3-1 count, took a ball that Baseball Savant said was outside, but instead was called a strike, thus setting up Crawford to roll over into a groundout instead of reaching. Had he reached, there was a chance that Crawford could’ve been on for Rodríguez after Cal Raleigh, but Raleigh was the third out.

“One pitch can affect the game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We talk about that all the time with our guys -- you’ve got to keep fighting, keep battling. If you watch the game on video, I haven’t seen a lot of it yet, I heard. But from my vantage point, there were a lot of very close calls that didn’t go our way.”

France was run by home-plate umpire Lance Barrett a half-inning after a called strikeout moments earlier. He asked for an explanation and voiced frustration, but he ultimately took first base and played the next half-inning. But he was ejected from the dugout after more conversing.

France, who entered the night hitting .125/.177/.167 (.344 OPS) in August and had been dramatically expanding his zone lately, was trying to focus on staying in the zone.

“We take a lot of pride in our plate discipline, and when those kinds of things happen, especially when it’s one after the other, it’s kind of tough,” France said. “But yeah, these games are important. We’re coming down the home stretch. It was a tough night.”

Television cameras zooming in on the dugout showed that the Mariners smashed roughly four to five helmets by the end of the night, underscoring the frustration of a game that snapped Seattle’s 51-0 record when leading after the seventh inning.

“Part of being a professional is that you’ve got to move on,” Servais said. “You’re not going to be able to change it. That doesn’t make it any easier.”

The night’s bright spot was the stellar start from Luis Castillo, featuring 10 strikeouts and just one run allowed, via a 415-foot homer from Ramírez in the fourth inning. Other than that, he gave up just three other hits and one walk.