SEATTLE — Luis Castillo struck out eight in six innings of two-hit ball and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 on Saturday to keep pace with the Toronto Blue Jays in their bid to host an AL wild-card series.
Castillo (8-6) retired 16 in a row to help Seattle to its fourth consecutive win, after two straight mediocre starts in which he gave up nine earned runs. The right-hander settled down after giving up two quick hits and a walk in the first inning to fall behind 1-0 — about 12 hours after most Mariners left the ballpark after clinching the club’s first playoff appearance in 21 years.
Jordan Diaz’s RBI single scored leadoff batter Tony Kemp, who singled on Castillo’s first pitch. But then Castillo recovered and struck out Conner Capel to end the first inning. He was flawless the rest of the way, teaming with Carlos Santana for three putouts at first base, and finished with a strikeout of Sean Murphy. His next outing will be in the playoffs.
The Mariners rested most of their key starters a day after securing a wild-card berth, ending the longest playoff drought in major professional sports in North America. They’ve got five more games — Sunday against the A’s and four games against the Detroit Tigers next week — to catch the Blue Jays and stay ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. The No. 1 wild card hosts a three-game series beginning Friday.
Leadoff hitter Dylan Moore doubled off opener Adam Oller (2-8) to start the game, and scored on Santana’s RBI single two batters later. Sam Haggerty’s two-out single brought home Santana and Luis Torrens later in the inning for a 3-1 lead.
Oakland’s J.P Sears kept the Mariners from extending the lead after entering the game to start the second. He struck out six, walked two and gave up just two hits, both of which the A’s wiped away with double plays. But Seattle used a near collision between outfielders Seth Brown and Capel on Torrens’ double in right-center to start a rally for two more runs in the eighth.
Matthew Boyd, Diego Castillo and Matt Festa provided three innings of hitless relief, sending the A’s to their sixth straight loss — their 102nd of the season.