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Mariners play in the snow and beat Rockies 7-0

Maybe I would feel differently if I grew up somewhere where you have to shovel your car out of several feet of snow every morning and just walk to get the mail, which requires improved health insurance, but there is something about playing in the snow that feels different from any other pleasure in life: a pure, uncomplicated joy. Even soggy socks and icy red noses don’t take away from the satisfaction of crashing a third snowball to complete a snowman, picking out a face with tiny pebbles, or the thrill of sledding down a snowy hill, without to pay attention to space. for everything except the feeling of, for a moment, breaking free from the bonds of gravity.

The Mariners needed an infusion of uncomplicated joy after a slow start to the season. They got the good vibes going with a series sweep against the Reds, but their joy was canceled out by an off-day followed by a postponed match. Heading into a snowy night in Colorado – the second coldest Mariners games ever recorded, with a playing temperature of 33 degrees – the question was how the Mariners would respond. Can they keep the good atmosphere going?

Luis Castillo, historically a slow starter, may not be the model for fun on snow days, but Castillo might as well have been throwing lures from his fishing boat into the waters off Miami for how carefree he looked on the mound. The Rock was on his game from the jump tonight, putting the Rockies down 1-2-3 in the first inning and continuing to cruise from there. Bad news for the Rockies: Castillo only got better from there. He walked a walk in the third and gave up a line drive single in the fourth, and those were the only other two errors on Castillo (one more batter reached base against him in the sixth, when Ty France lost a baseball in the third collection). snow on an easy pop-out, but we don’t count that. Put a snowflake-shaped asterisk next to that second “goal” Castillo allowed tonight.

Castillo went with a heavy dose of four-seamer tonight, forcing hitters to be aggressive in the zone and earn a lot of whiffs – leading the league with 19 strikeouts, on his way to nine strikeouts, tying his career high equaled (and equaled his own record). most strikeouts in a game by a Mariners pitcher this season). He put batters away with a combination of his fastball (64%) and slider (28%), not throwing a changeup until the third inning, and used that to get Charlie Blackmon to ground out. Best of all, Castillo pitched seven innings and saved the bullpen for tomorrow’s doubleheader. (Shoutout to Tyson Miller and Brett deGeus, the low-leverage arms of the bullpen, who kept the shutout going in the eighth and ninth innings and helped preserve the rest of the bullpen.)

“You can’t take The Rock out when he throws like that,” Scott Servais said after the game. “He’s the warmest guy in the ballpark.”

Meanwhile, the offense supported Castillo’s strong start, with 16 goals on the season. For the third straight game, they took six or more walks, jumping early on Rockies starter Dakota Hudson. The Mariners didn’t score in the first inning, but they did force Hudson to throw more than 20 pitches – one of which Cal Raleigh must have seen and remembered, when he ambushed a sinker from the first pitch to open the second for an opposing field. Home run.

On the podcast we released today, I asked Zach Mason who he thought had the most encouraging offensive turnaround after the Mariners’ recent resurgence and he said: Cal Raleigh, a prophetic choice as Cal had its best game of the young season tonight played with four hits. one walk, and – most encouragingly – two strikeouts. Unsurprisingly, Cal was involved in almost every scoring action, both scoring and scoring points. He also drove in the second run of the day for the Mariners and lasered another line drive in the third to score Julio Rodríguez and give the Mariners a 2–0 lead.

With a four-hit performance, Cal would be the clear choice for Player of the Game – except Julio also had a four-hit day, also without strikeouts, and Julio added two steals to his season total. If there’s anyone who could use an infusion of uncomplicated joy, it’s Julio, a one-man factory that unfortunately shortened its production line early in this 2024 season. Tonight the machines came back to life under the snowy Colorado sky as Julio ran around the bases.

Speaking of rampant running around the bases, the Mariners broke it wide open in the fifth. The Mariners loaded the bases against new pitcher Victor Vodnik, who took over for Hudson after walking Raleigh. France and Mitch Garver followed with singles to set up a bases-loaded, no-out situation for Jonatan Clase. There’s no denying that Clase – playing in his first MLB games as a young 21-year-old – brought a joyful spark to the Mariners, and he kept that spark alive with this single (and an assist from some pretty terrible fielding from normally accurate right fielder Sean Bouchard).

Ahhh, if only he hadn’t held on just a little bit, that would be all over the highlight shows tonight. But that doesn’t take away from the joy of an uncomplicated victory – something the Mariners needed, especially heading into a doubleheader tomorrow in the cold. But for tonight: hot chocolate and warm blankets all around, and the memory of a nice day.

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