It isn’t normally the case that by 7/31, the Mariners and Astros will face-off for the last time in the regular season. Thankfully, for Seattle, that is the situation this season. Houston had the edge this year (sadly, most years) over the M’s. Since July 2nd, the Mariners have won 18 of 24. Take a wild guess as to who their losses were to in this recent stretch. If you guessed Houston, you’d be correct. The six losses in their most recent successful month have all been at the hands of Houston.
Seattle lost three of four to one of baseball’s best squads. Bright spot in their road trip? All-Star Luis Castillo is a Mariner. Seattle splashed with the addition of Castillo, but at a heavy cost. Seems to everyone that Nick Krall, Cincinnati Reds GM and “Trader” Jerry Dipoto have a strong relationship, at least when it comes to moves done by mutual trade as of the last year. Luis Castillo, a two-time all-star, was baseball’s biggest trade deadline starter this year. Castillo is 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts. He is averaging more than one strikeout an inning and has serious control. He will instantly jump up with Logan Gilbert as the “Ace” of the rotation. Seattle did give up a haul for the former-Red: Shortstops Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo and Pitchers Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore. Marte was Seattle’s top prospect, where he will likely be on Cincinnati’s starting lineup beginning next year.
Mariner fans want Trader Jerry to bolster the hitting as well before Tuesday. They could have certainly used an impact bat in their three losses to Houston over the last four days. The 11-1 loss on Friday was mellowed by the acquisition of Luis Castillo. Saturday’s Mariner win however, was the toughest on the team and fans.
Ty France is still dealing with a wrist injury from swinging through a changeup less than a week ago. In the eighth inning Saturday night, ex-Mariner Rafael Montero hit Rookie Julio Rodriguez on his right wrist with a 97-MPH sinker. X-Rays were negative, but Rodriguez can’t seem to keep either of his wrists in shape unfortunately. Today, Julio was put on the 10-day IL, and Manager Scott Servais made it clear that they won’t be rushing the ROY front-runner back. Also in the win, Dylan Moore exited with back spasms, and landed himself on the 15-day IL. Out of frustration of not getting a bunt down, Sam Haggerty had to get stitches on his forehead after slamming his bat, and it ricocheting off the dirt.
Seattle is now patiently waiting for OF Mitch Haniger (Grade 2 high right ankle sprain) to make his return to the ball club. Jarred Kelenic needs to step-up in a big way after being recalled after the injury fiasco Saturday night.
After losing three of four to Houston, the road ahead doesn’t favor Seattle in the near future. The M’s are headed to the Bronx for three against baseball’s best team, the New York Yankees. Six of Seattle’s next ten games will be against The Evil Empire. Shortly after facing the LA Angels for four games after returning from New York, they will have to face the Yankees again at T-Mobile Park August 8-10.
As it looks right now, it will be newly acquired Luis Castillo up against Gerrit Cole on Wednesday. As tough as the next ten games will be, Seattle’s long-term future schedule is favorable. As long as Seattle continues to keep their winning momentum, despite losing their arguably best player in J-Rod for a minimum of ten games, they can continue to hold a playoff spot ahead of some of the other AL teams that are closely in the Wild Card hunt. As it stands right now, Seattle is 55-48, and have a half-game lead over Toronto for the second of three Wild Card spots.