The Seattle Mariners waited 21 years to see their team in the playoffs again. Based on what we saw today, it was well worth the wait. Part of me feels bad for the Toronto Blue Jays. They ran into the one thing that every baseball team is afraid they will run into in October. They went up against the starter who pitched the game of his life in a big game. Luis Castillo, who was acquired at the deadline in a trade that some thought was controversial at the time, proved why he was not just worthy of the prospects the Mariners gave up for him but worthy of the extension he received before the postseason.
Now the Mariners' success today wasn't entirely because of Luis Castillo. Alek Manoah, who's had an unbelievable season for the Blue Jays, got jumped on early when he gave up three runs before the fans even sat down. That first inning set the tone and proved that this is not just a Mariners team that is happy to be in the postseason. They came prepped and ready to play against an elite pitcher.
This is a baseball team with a talented young core and a rock solid pitching staff. That was on full display today when Luis Castillo went out and absolutely shoved today. You could tell from the first inning that he wouldn't give up much damage. Castillo has always been an interesting pitcher to me. He's made multiple All-Star teams, yet you've always felt like there's another gear to his game that he hadn't found. I've always thought he had some of the best stuff in the entire sport. That was on full display today. The fastball topped out 100 MPH. That changeup, which is his putaway pitch, was filthy as well. He also mixed in a few really good sliders. Even beyond that, though, he just kept runners off the base paths. In October, it's so important to keep the pressure off, and he did that today. The Seattle Mariners now find themselves one win away from playing in the ALDS for the first time since 2001. The Blue Jays are an excellent team, and they will not go quietly into that good night. But today belongs to a pitcher who, in a hostile environment, made it look easy against a potent lineup. Take a bow, Luis.