Mariners' wild 9th yields a win 'to remember'

August 16th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Chaos ball is back.

The Mariners needed all nine innings, but they finally pulled away for a 6-2 victory over the Angels by playing their brand of nail-biting baseball.

With hardly any action for much of Monday's pitching duel between Luis Castillo and Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium, the final frame was wild. Here’s what went down:

• Sam Haggerty hit a 103.8 mph single to left with one out, then reached second when Aaron Loup spiked a cutter in the dirt. Yet, before Haggerty took off, Angels catcher Max Stassi sailed a throw into center field that allowed Haggerty to advance. The speedster then stole third base during an eventual walk to Carlos Santana.

• Haggerty then scored on a bizarre sequence, beginning with Julio Rodríguez roping a 107.5 mph line drive right at second baseman Luis Rengifo, who dropped the ball but corralled it in time to throw home and catch Haggerty in a rundown. But in the back and forth, Stassi came away from protecting the plate, and Haggerty evaded easily and pushed Seattle ahead, 3-2.

• After Rodríguez’s fielder’s choice, Ty France chopped a ground ball to shortstop Andrew Velazquez, whose throw to Stassi dropped when Dylan Moore came sliding in.

• Rodríguez then scored on a dribbler by Jesse Winker to Velazquez, who was playing in. But with a 23.4-foot secondary lead and a 29.1 feet-per-second sprint speed, there wasn’t even a play at the plate, and Rodríguez scored easily on the groundout.

• J.P. Crawford capped the four-run outburst with an RBI single to left that scored France, who completed the rally with a belly-flop slide.

“This is a game that we are going to remember,” Rodríguez said. “My goodness there was a lot going on."

The Mariners also caught a few breaks:

• Santana walked on three balls instead of four because home-plate umpire Laz Díaz admittedly lost the count, telling a pool reporter, "I messed that one up." So, instead of being even at 2-2, Santana was ahead, 3-1, and walked with one out before Seattle took the lead. Who knows what might’ve happened had that plate appearance resulted in an out before Haggerty scored.

• For whatever reason, the Angels kept the left-handed Loup in to face Rodríguez and France and didn’t have a righty warming. Loup, who is also slower to the plate, was an ideal pitcher for Haggerty to steal against.

• Haggerty wasn’t even taking off for second and only did so after Stassi’s 77.9 mph throw went into shallow right-center field, a ball that on impact landed in the grass and not the infield dirt.

As expected, even for a team that thrives with late-inning drama, most hadn’t been part of a game like Monday’s. Here’s some reaction:

Haggerty, on scoring the go-ahead run: “As I see the ball drop, my first thought was, 'Keep us in the inning and stop the double play.' So I tried to get a throw home, they threw it home, and now I'm trying to stay in the rundown to get [Moore] to third, to get Julio to second and give us another chance. I turned my head and I didn't see anybody at home plate, and I went for it.”

Rodríguez, on creating pressure on the basepaths: “I feel like that’s something we do really well. We take pride in that. If you hear our conversations all the time, we’re just talking about how proud we are when we run the bases. That’s just another way to make things happen. It’s really valuable because whenever guys like Sam, [Moore] and me are on the bases, you know [opposing pitchers] are thinking about it.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais, on capitalizing: “We caught a few breaks. You have to take advantage of them. We put ourselves in a position by the pitching and how we played to keep the game right there and create some havoc later on. I guess that’s ‘chaos ball’ at its finest.”

Angels manager Phil Nevin, on the Halos’ defense: "It was awful. We just made some bad decisions, some bad throws. We didn't execute a rundown. Yeah, it wasn't good."

Castillo dazzles again
The late offensive breakthrough salvaged another stellar start from Castillo, whom the Mariners remain undefeated behind in three outings since he was acquired ahead of the Trade Deadline. Castillo, again without a soft landing, mostly outdueled Ohtani over six strong innings in what was easily MLB’s top pitching matchup on Monday.

Castillo’s stuff maybe wasn’t as sharp as it was during his electric T-Mobile Park debut last week, working into a three-ball count against six batters that elevated his pitch count. But he finished strong, striking out the side in the sixth while dialing his fastball up to 97 mph and reaching 109 pitches.

Over eight outings dating back to June 28 (when he was still with the Reds), Castillo’s teams are undefeated when he takes the mound.