Pa Pedro Moore
Posted by FOX Sports MLB

The Seattle Mariners on Friday, Toronto used a furious first inning to win its first postseason game in 21 years. They won Blue Jays 4-0 in Game 1 American League Wild Card Series at Rogers Centre.

Three of those runs came early as Eugenio Suarez doubled in the feeling of a beginner Julio Rodriguez on the 10th pitch of the game and Cal Raleigh followed by launching a two-run homer. That was enough offense, and then Suarez drove in another run in the fifth.

rally of course sent the Mariners to the playoffs leaving home exactly one week before. The hard-hitting catcher kept the momentum going, as did his team.

What happened to the sailors

It wasn’t exactly an offensive breakthrough. More than their hitters, what Seattle won in the series opener was an elite performance from the midseason acquisition Luis Castillo. Castillo has been closer to good than great since his Mariners debut on Aug. 3, but he was beyond great Friday.

Thrusting his stuff to 100 miles per hour, Castillo threw 72% strikeouts and didn’t walk a blue jay. That efficiency allowed him to last 7⅓ innings, the longest shutout start in franchise history.

Manager Scott Servais was willing to turn to his bullpen at several points, but he only had to once: for the young right-hander Andres Munozwho handled the final five outs with aplomb.

What went wrong for the Blue Jays

Toronto created just three scoring opportunities with a runner in field position — and didn’t convert any of them. It was a strong and patient offense throughout the second half, but it wasn’t in the postseason opener. The Blue Jays didn’t work a single pitch, allowing the Mariners to use only two of their most electric pitchers and save the rest of their bullpen for Games 2 and (possibly) 3.

Next, right Alec Manoah was not his usual spectacular self. He couldn’t finish six innings, and he couldn’t strike out Seattle hitters when he needed to.

The key moment of the game

Raleigh battled Manoa to a tight 3-2 lead, then pounced on a misstep for a two-run home run that gave the Mariners vital breathing space. The pitch was a 95 mph sinker, with the necessary action but poor placement, up and over the middle of the plate.

Even so, what Raleigh did to him was unexpected.

Manoa threw down 762 sinkers in the regular season. Only once did a hitter manage to hit one for a home run. Manoa went 3-2 against the 90 in the regular season. Out of that total, hitters hit just seven times and homers just two times.

Raleigh’s home run increased Seattle’s odds of winning by more than 14%. Even before the Blue Jays fought back, their odds of winning had dropped below a quarter. After that, they hardly increased.

What to see in game 2

The Blue Jays will turn to Kevin Gausman to save their season. They opted to sign Gausman last offseason rather than extend their 2021 Cy Young winner to a new contract. Robbie Ray.

The Mariners, of course, will start Ray after Canada adjusted its travel requirements to allow unvaccinated visitors just in time for the series. The matchup again features two elite pitchers, though Seattle’s players will be much fresher.

The health of the leader of the Blue Jays George Springer requires scrutiny, too, after Castillo’s last pitch on Friday drilled a hole in his wrist. Springer was one of the few Jays to register a good offensive day and has been rated as an elite postseason performer for years.

Pedro Moura is a national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for The Athletic, the Angels and Dodgers for the Orange County Register and the LA Times, and his alma mater, USC, for ESPN Los Angeles. He is the author of How to Beat a Broken Game. Follow him on Twitter @masonry.


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