Suárez passes Mariners legend with RBI in wild slugfest

August 5th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- On a night during which several Taylor Swift songs were played over the Angel Stadium sound system -- a nod to the pop superstar’s weeklong run of sold-out stadium shows roughly 30 miles down the highway in Inglewood -- it was Mariners slugger , starter Luis Castillo and reliever Matt Brash who proved that timely base hits and strikeouts will never go out of style. 

Suárez’s single up the middle in the eighth inning scored Julio Rodríguez to break a tie, with Suárez playing the central role in dashing the Angels’ hopes of a come-from-behind victory. In doing so, Suárez set a Mariners franchise record with an RBI in his 10th consecutive game, passing Edgar Martinez’s streak of nine such games in 1995. 

Cal Raleigh added an insurance run with a solo homer in the ninth inning, which set the stage for a climactic bottom of the frame that wasn’t short on drama.

After the first two batters reached base, up stepped Shohei Ohtani with the home crowd’s wildest dreams of an electrifying walk-off in sight. But Brash battled back, striking out Ohtani on a 98.2 mph fastball up in the zone and C.J. Cron on a slider before retiring Mike Moustakas on a fly ball to left field to seal the deal.

It was a resilient 9-7 victory by Seattle, which can clinch its fifth consecutive series win by splitting the final two games this weekend. On a night when manager Scott Servais said he had to be “a little bit more creative” with Andrés Muñoz unavailable, Brash came through when called upon to fill the blank space at the end of the ’pen.

“That was Matt’s second career save, but that’s a real save,” said Servais. “On the road, everybody’s on their feet, Ohtani’s at the plate, and he executed his pitches. Nice win.”

The victory salvaged an uncharacteristic outing from Castillo, who allowed seven earned runs for the first time as a Mariner -- and for the first time in his career since Aug. 9, 2021, with the Reds.

Servais elected to leave Castillo in to face Ohtani with the game tied at 6 in the sixth, but Castillo persevered, capping his night with a strikeout on a down-and-in slider.

It was a “stud inning,” according to the skipper.

“You have to forget about what happened in the first five innings,” said Servais. “To go out there and throw up a zero like that? Not many people can do that. There’s elite pitchers in this league who can do that, and he’s one of them.”

Castillo added that from his perspective, all that mattered in his showdown with Ohtani was the moment -- not what came before. 

“My plan as soon as I got on that mound was, ‘You’re good. So am I.’ That was my mentality out there. We just battled it out, and the results speak for themselves,” said Castillo through interpreter Freddy Llanos. 

Servais spoke pregame of how his club has maintained its place in the thick of the AL Wild Card hunt thanks to strong contributions from “a number of different guys that maybe you weren't expecting to.” To that end, Ty France staked Seattle to a quick 4-0 lead on Reid Detmers with a three-run homer in the first inning. It was France’s first home run since June 22, a span of 141 plate appearances.

Rodríguez, the Mariners’ cornerstone player, has warmed up as the summer has progressed, hitting .293 in July after posting a .238 average through June. Friday’s game probably wouldn’t have played out as it did were it not for Rodríguez’s 2-for-3 performance, most notably a key hustle double that set the stage for Suárez’s big moment.

As a result of Seattle’s hot play, the clubhouse mood is “a lot of fun. I feel like we’re sticking together as a team,” Rodríguez said. “We’re fighting for each other, we’re definitely enjoying it.”

For Suárez, breaking a record previously held by Mariners legend and Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez -- “one of my favorite people in the world” -- felt good, but he emphasized that even bigger than making Seattle history was the context in which he did it, in a victory, and with a cheering section rooting him on.

“I feel glad to do that in front of my family. My wife and daughter were there, so that was more important to me,” said Suárez. 

“He always comes in and puts in the work on the field, and it definitely shows on the field,” added Rodríguez. “I’m really proud of him, and we definitely need him on the team.”