Castillo strikes out 8, surging Mariners drop A’s 5-1

Castillo (8-6) retired 16 straight times to help Seattle to their fourth straight win.

SEATTLE (AP) — Luis Castillo hit eight in six innings with two hits and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 on Saturday to step up with the Toronto Blue Jays in their attempt to host an AL wildcard series keep .

Castillo (8-6) retired 16 straight times to help Seattle to their fourth straight win. The right-hander calmed down after giving up two quick hits and a walk in the first inning to fall 1-0 down – about 12 hours after most of the Mariners left the stadium after making the club’s first playoff appearance had won for 21 years.

“He really had total control of the game and I would say that was probably the most stress-free game we’ve had here in a long time,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “I felt with him out on the mound and how the game was going, how the crowd was tonight when it started last night, it was a nice ball game executed perfectly with a W behind it. So we’ll see if we sweep them away tomorrow.”

Jordan Diaz’s RBI single scored leadoff hitter Tony Kemp, who hit a single on Castillo’s first pitch. But then Castillo recovered and knocked out Conner Capel to end the first inning. He used his slider along with a two-seam fastball and was flawless the rest of the way. Along with Carlos Santana, he made three putouts at first base. Castillo ended his outing with a Sean Murphy strikeout.

“The slider is really good,” said Servais. “And it’s a playing field he should probably lean on a little bit more. We saw it moving with its fastball today. It’s a damn good combination. He likes to compete. No question.”

After two mediocre games, Castillo’s best move on Saturday perhaps came in the early hours as he briefly celebrated with his teammates before going home early and going to bed before the start of the day’s game.

Castillo’s next appearance will be in the playoffs, the goal general manager Jerry Dipoto had in mind when the Mariners traded to the All-Stars before the deadline this summer. The fact that his slider is working well now makes him fit for the role.

“Trust was the key to being able to throw that pitch there,” Castillo said through a translator. “It didn’t matter what the pitch was.”

The Mariners rested most of their key starters a day after securing a wildcard berth, ending the longest playoff drought in major pro sports in North America. They have five more games — against the A’s on Sunday and four games against the Detroit Tigers next week — to catch the Blue Jays and stay ahead of Tampa Bay. Wildcard #1 is hosting a best-of-three series starting Friday.

Leadoff hitter Dylan Moore doubled opener Adam Oller (2-8) to start the game and scored two batters later on Santana’s RBI single. Sam Haggerty’s two-out single gave Santana and Luis Torrens a 3-1 lead later in the inning.

“I think he’s playing as well now as he has any time he’s been a mariner,” Servais said. “He started it rolling and at this time of year you need people to walk like that. He really set the tone today.”

Oakland’s JP Sears stopped the Mariners from extending the lead after he entered the game to start the second. He hit six, walked two and gave up just two hits, both of which wiped away the A’s with doubles.

“I thought Sears did a great job today commanding baseball and utilizing fastball at the top of the zone,” said Mark Kotsay, manager of A. “His off-speed pitches had some swings and misses. …. The trip was a great way to end the year.”

A near-collision between outfielders Seth Brown and Capel on Torrens’ double at right center helped Seattle start a rally for two more heats in the eighth. Matthew Boyd, Diego Castillo and Matt Festa provided three innings of unsuccessful relief and sent the A’s to their sixth straight loss – their 102nd of the season.

Athletics: Oller came off the 15-day injured list on Friday because of a bout of rib costochondritis, the swelling of the cartilage between the rib cage and the breastbone. He gave up three runs and three hits, batting two and walking two before yielding to Sears to start the second. Kotsay said using Oller as an opener allowed the team to manage the former starter’s work in a way he was familiar with.

Athletics: RHP James Kaprieelian (4-9, 4.43 ERA) ends the series. Kaprielian is 1-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his last three starts.

Mariners: LHP Robbie Ray (12-11, 3.58) tries to break a three-game losing streak in his last appearance of the regular season. Castillo strikes out 8, surging Mariners drop A’s 5-1

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