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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Luis Castillo takes perfecto into the seventh

The Mariners’ ace was in control over six perfect innings against the Rockies.

Colorado Rockies v Seattle Mariners Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

There’s nothing like an ace doing ace things, and Gerrit Cole can do that with the best of anyone in the game. You don’t see complete games too often these days outside of Sandy Alcantara starts (because why else would the Marlins bother with their bullpen when he’s rolling), so it’s awesome to see that Cole can still go all nine with ease. That combined with the offday Monday gives the Yankees’ relief corps a full two-day breather at a time when they really need it.

Although one fellow ace came close, none of the Yankees’ rivals tossed a shutout himself like Cole, but let’s peak in on what they did anyway.

Tampa Bay Rays (14-2) 8, Toronto Blue Jays (10-6) 1

It probably would’ve been too perfect for the Rays to see their 13-0 start go to pieces in a sweep. So Toronto had to settle for taking two out of three from their formerly undefeated division rivals.

Sunday was not Alek Manoah’s afternoon, as Tampa Bay smoked him for seven runs on nine hits, four walks, and a hit-by-pitch. The Rays’ first run came on a bases-loaded free pass, and a two-run hit by Josh Lowe made it 3-0 before Toronto even came up to bat. The Jays got one back against Shane McClanahan on an RBI single from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as Manoah settled down a bit between the second and fourth, but the Rays came back with a fury in the fifth. Lowe notched another RBI on a double, and No. 9 hitter Christian Bethancourt dropped the hammer with a three-run bomb:

Since that first-inning score was all that McClanahan allowed in six sterling innings, the four-run fifth was more than enough insurance as Tampa Bay left Toronto at a still-impressive 14-2.

Washington Nationals (5-11) 7, Cleveland Guardians (9-7) 6

Did you have “2023 Patrick Corbin successfully goes toe-to-toe with Shane Bieber” on your Bingo card? If so, kindly send me the next lottery numbers.

Credit to Corbin and the Nationals, who looked like they would just shuffle quietly off into the afternoon after a four-run third by the Guardians on big RBI doubles from Will Brennan and Josh Bell. That put Cleveland up, 4-2, but Jeimer Candelario quickly the cut lead back in half on a solo shot off Bieber. Corbin’s next three innings were scoreless, and two runs by Cleveland against reliever Hobie Harris were again countered in a hurry, this time on a two-run blast by second baseman Luis García.

When righty reliever Mason Thompson turned the Guardians away in the top of the eighth, that opened the door for the Nats to break through. Nick Sandlin couldn’t hold the lead, as a single, a walk, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly tied the score. Trevor Stephan entered for Sandlin, but Joey Meneses hit an RBI single to put the Nats in front. Kyle Finnegan shut the door in the ninth, and Washington avoided a home sweep.

Seattle Mariners (8-8) 1, Colorado Rockies (5-11) 0

He’s only lived in the Pacific Northwest for less than a year, but it now feels like Luis Castillo has been a Mariner for quite some time. Maybe it’s the way that he asserted himself at the top of the Seattle rotation when he came over from Cincinnati at the trade deadline in 2022; maybe it’s the fact that he signed a long-term extension within two months of joining the M’s. But that ballclub would not be the same without him by any stretch, that’s for sure.

Like Cole, Castillo is off to a brilliant start in 2023 and through three starts, he had a 1.02 ERA, 2.12 FIP, and 0.736 WHIP. Like Cole, he somehow managed to improve on those sparkling numbers in start no. 4. The Rockies have some good hitters in Kris Bryant, C.J. Cron, Jurickson Profar, and Charlie Blackmon, but did anyone really have much confidence that could outfox Castillo on the road?

In case there was any doubt, Castillo absolutely silenced Colorado through six innings of perfect ball. The first hit for the Rox didn’t arrive until Profar singled to lead off the seventh.

A big assist has to go out to the resurgent Jarred Kelenic, though. After five shutout frames from Colorado’s Noah Davis in his first big league start, reliever Brad Hand allowed an RBI single to Kelenic for Seattle’s only run. Two innings later on defense with a runner on second, two down, and the Mariners’ bullpen on duty, Kelenic robbed pinch-hitter Elias Díaz of a game-tying single with a terrific diving catch.

Paul Sewald turned away the Rockies with a perfect ninth to close out the sweep with a 1-0 victory. The Mariners are back to .500 for the first time this month.

Texas Rangers (9-6) 9, Houston Astros (7-9) 1

On Sunday Night Baseball at Minute Maid Park, Framber Valdez and Andrew Heaney dueled each other for five scoreless innings apiece with a combined three hits allowed. Heaney needed 88 pitches to get through his five, so he was out, but Valdez notched a zero in the sixth, too. It all seemed like it was just a matter of time before Houston figured things out and won this home game. And then came the seventh.

Valdez returned to the mound and things went haywire. Nathaniel Lowe doubled to kick things off, Adolis García reached when shortstop Jeremy Peña threw the ball away, and Josh Jung singled to load the bases. Valdez walked Jonah Heim to push the go-ahead run across and Dusty Baker finally hooked him when Robbie Grossman singled another man home. The strategy worked for two batters as Hector Neris induced a popup and struck out Travis Jankowski. The top of the order was up next, however, and though down 0-2, Marcus Semien went boom:

Decisive, huh? The Rangers added to the lead in the eighth and ended up winning easily, 8-1.

Other Scores

Baltimore Orioles (9-7) 8, Chicago White Sox (6-10) 4: Technically, our focus here should be on the O’s, but I can’t get over how disappointing the White Sox considering how looked after 2020. Sure, the Tony La Russa hire was questionable, but he’s not even here anymore and they’re still underwhelming. They pounced on Grayson Rodriguez for a three-run homer by Gavin Sheets and another from Jake Burger to give a 4-0 lead to Dylan Cease. But Baltimore came back on a two-run triple from Cedric Mullins in the fourth, a wild pitch from Cease to tie it in the sixth, and then another RBI hit from Mullins to put the O’s ahead in the eighth. The tack-on runs were just salt in the wound for the crowd in Chcago.

Boston Red Sox (8-8) 2, Los Angeles Angels (7-8) 1: Former Yankees prospect Garrett Whitlock had a rocky season debut back on April 11th at the Trop, but he made up for it with an excellent effort on Sunday. The right-hander tossed seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball, and Justin Turner’s first home run in a Red Sox uniform was all the support he needed. Boston will go for a four-game sweep of the Angels this morning at the annual 11:10am start time for Patriots’ Day.