11 facts about Mariners' long-awaited return to postseason

October 8th, 2022

The Mariners started to make up for lost time on Friday.

Playing the franchise’s first postseason game in 21 years -- after breaking the sport’s longest playoff drought -- Seattle defeated Toronto, 4-0, in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series at Rogers Centre. The Mariners now have control of the best-of-three series.

Here are 11 facts and figures to know about this long-awaited victory.

1. There are lots of ways to look at the Mariners’ playoff drought, but here’s one that boggles the mind: Friday marked 7,655 days since the club’s incredible 2001 campaign -- which featured a record-tying 116 victories -- ended in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

The franchise’s last postseason victory had come in Game 3 of that series, on Oct. 20, 2001, also in the Bronx. Jamie Moyer was the winning pitcher, and current Mariners star was less than 1 year old at the time.

2. Seattle didn’t waste time getting the bats going, with the third hitter of the game, , lining an RBI double to right field. That made him the first Mariner with a postseason hit since Mark McLemore singled off Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of 2001 ALCS Game 5. McLemore turned 58 years old on Tuesday.

3. The victory was all the more thrilling for the Mariners because Rodríguez was in the middle of it. The 21-year-old phenom became the youngest Seattle player to start a postseason game, as well as the youngest to record a hit, thanks to a seventh-inning single. He passed Alex Rodriguez for the lead in both, with A-Rod having been 22 years old when he started and homered in Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS.

4. While the win was sweet, it didn’t come without some pain for J-Rod. He was hit by a pitch twice by Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah, marking the second game in his career with multiple hit-by-pitches (also June 8 at Houston). It was the first multi-HBP game in Mariners postseason history, but at least Rodríguez made Toronto pay by turning both into runs.

That made the AL Rookie of the Year Award frontrunner only the third player in postseason history to be hit by multiple pitches and score multiple runs in a game. The others are the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins (2009 NLCS Game 5) and the Rangers’ Rougned Odor (2015 ALDS Game 2, coincidentally also at Toronto).

5. Speaking of Manoah, the Mariners stunned the big right-hander -- an AL Cy Young Award candidate -- for three first-inning runs. Not only did Manoah end the regular season with a 15-inning scoreless streak, but he had a 2.03 ERA in the first inning in 2022.

Even more impressively, he had not allowed a single first-inning run across 15 outings at Rogers Centre, making him one of only five MLB pitchers with at least 10 home starts and a 0.00 first-inning ERA this season.

6. The biggest blow in that first inning came from , who bashed a two-run homer. It was the first Seattle postseason big fly since Bret Boone hit one off the Yankees’ Ramiro Mendoza in 2001 ALCS Game 4. Raleigh joined Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Carlos Guillen as the only Mariners to hit a postseason homer at age 25 or younger.

7. Meanwhile, shut down an explosive Blue Jays lineup, going 7 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing six hits and no walks and striking out five. He became the first Mariners pitcher to throw at least seven scoreless innings in a playoff game.

8. Amazingly, Castillo racked up three of those five strikeouts in the seventh inning, getting Matt Chapman on a slider, Raimel Tapia on a 98 mph fastball and Danny Jansen on a 97.9 mph fastball. It was the second time in Castillo’s career that he had struck out the side -- meaning he recorded three K’s without allowing a baserunner -- in the seventh inning or later. The other was on Aug. 5, 2019, against the Angels.

In the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), only two other starting pitchers had recorded multiple K’s on pitches 97-plus mph in a single inning in the seventh or later during the postseason. They were Justin Verlander (2012 ALDS Game 1) and Walker Buehler (2018 World Series Game 3).

9. Castillo brought the heat all game long, from his first pitch (99 mph) to his last (97.9 mph). He threw 66 fastballs (four-seamers and sinkers) in all, and all were at least 96 mph. Of those, 64 were at least 97, 51 were at least 98 mph, 24 were at least 99 mph and five were at least 100 mph.

Those 64 pitches at 97 or faster are tied for the second most in a postseason outing in the pitch-tracking era, matching the Royals’ Yordano Ventura (2014 ALDS Game 2). Only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (2016 NL Wild Card Game) has surpassed that number.

10. Castillo combined with to blank the Blue Jays for only the second team shutout in Mariners postseason history. The other came in Game 1 of the 2000 ALCS, when Freddy Garcia, Jose Paniagua, Arthur Rhodes and Kazuhiro Sasaki shut down the Yankees.

11. Castillo also combined with Muñoz to throw 71 fastballs at an average of 98.8 mph, the highest produced by a team in a postseason game in the pitch-tracking era, as first pointed out by researcher Jeremy Frank. The Mariners passed the 2014 Royals (ALDS Game 2), who averaged 98.2 mph on 92 fastballs, behind Ventura and four relievers.