Not just for the seventh-inning stretch or the much-deserved standing ovation for their starting pitcher’s effort or because a slick video created by the Mariners’ stellar game-production crew was showing on the T-Mobile Park JumboTron telling them to do so.
No, they stood because this game deserved it, because it was far too well-played to disrespect the final innings by remaining in their seats. Besides, the intensity on every pitch over those final innings was far too nerve-racking to sit down when all they wanted to do was jump, cheer or pace but not miss any little thing that might happen.
And so many damn things happened Tuesday night in a 1-0, 13-inning victory over the New York Yankees as they stood captivated and exhilarated.
It was particularly true in the final two innings of regulation and the four extra innings it took to finish it: brilliant relief pitching, fantastic defensive plays, stupidity on the bases and so many agonizing at-bats that failed to score a runner in scoring position.
They stood even as the game grew to more than four hours in length, because this is what you do in postseason games, or at least what they remember of the last postseason game or what they were told about it. Everything about this game had a postseason feel, and everything about this team makes them believe they can return there.
They stood, even though it’s something they weren’t conditioned or inclined to do in recent seasons but know it should be done now. And as a large portion of the 38,804 in attendance stood in anticipation, they were finally rewarded by the unlikeliest of heroes in the 13th inning.
Luis Torrens, whose hitting struggles this season could have him out of the organization in the coming days, smacked a bases-loaded, pinch-hit single to right field to score Eugenio Suarez for a fantastic marathon victory.
“Baseball’s not a boring game,” manager Scott Servais said. “I’ve been at a lot of major-league games. I’ve been in a lot of major-league games. And that was one of the best games I’ve ever seen.”
And as the Mariners unleashed a wild celebration near first base that was part ecstasy and part exhaustion, the crowd still stood, applauding the effort of both teams in what was perhaps the most entertaining game of the MLB season.
It’s not often that can be said of a game in which one run was scored.
“The electricity in our ballpark tonight, the fans were incredible,” Servais said. “As we sit here in early August, we’ve got big things ahead of us.”
Big things like the postseason. So was it a postseason-level crowd?
“I don’t know, because (we) haven’t been to the postseason in a while,” Servais joked. “But I’m assuming it would be like this and maybe a little bit better. Our fan base is starved for this type of baseball. We have a team that can provide it. We’re fun to watch. We can be frustrating to watch. I get all that as a fan, and what it means to hang on the edge of your seat for every pitch. That’s what baseball is about, and our team embodies that.”
Five Mariners pitchers held the Yankees scoreless, allowing three hits. Four relievers did not allow a hit over the final five innings and struck out 14.
Reliever Matt Brash got the win, pitching the final two innings without allowing a run and starting a ridiculous double play that featured him fielding a comebacker from Isiah Kiner-Falefa behind his back, leaving two Yankees base runners confused and later out on the play.
In the bottom of the 13th, facing Jonathan Loaisiga with Suarez on second base as the automatic runner, Cal Raleigh singled to right field to move Suarez to third. After J.P. Crawford’s soft ground ball back to the mound couldn’t score the run but allowed Raleigh to move to second, the Yankees intentionally walked Sam Haggerty to load the bases.
Having burned the designated hitter in the 11th inning, Brash was scheduled to hit after Haggerty. Servais called on Torrens, who came into the game with a .211/.261/.251 slash line this season while playing minimally since the All-Star break.
“I tip my cap to him,” Servais said. “LT has not had a good year. But a great at-bat tonight.”
The Mariners acquired Curt Casali at the trade deadline to replace Torrens as the backup catcher. That roster move could come Friday after Torrens catches the homestand finale.
“It’s really big for me,” Torrens said. “It’s a big moment for me and the team. I learned this last year to stay positive. I know I’m a good hitter, and I believe I’m good player. I just have to keep thinking that.”
The much-anticipated pitchers duel between Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo that failed to materialize five days ago at Yankee Stadium was given a redo in a rematch Tuesday.
This time, right-hander Cole pitched like the ace the Yankees expected when they signed him to a nine-year, $340 million deal in 2020.
Meanwhile, right-hander Castillo, who was acquired at the trade deadline, made his first start in front of home fans — well, perhaps 65 percent of the crowd was cheering for the Mariners — and continued his dominance of the Yankees.
In the battle of the starters, he edged Cole in terms of performance.
But neither allowed a run and didn’t figure into the decision.
After giving up three home runs and six runs to the Mariners in the first inning of his previous start, Cole pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Using his fastball more than 70 percent of the time, he allowed just one runner to reach second base.
Castillo tossed eight shutout innings, allowing three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He is the eighth starting pitcher this season to throw eight shutout innings and take a no-decision. He is the 19th Mariners pitcher to suffer such a fate. The most recent was Mike Leake against the A’s on Aug. 15, 2018. It happened to Felix Hernandez three times in his career.
It was also the fourth time in T-Mobile Park history in which both starters pitched seven-plus shutout innings with more than seven strikeouts each. The last time that occurred was June 28, 2012, with Hernandez and Boston’s Franklin Morales.
Castillo didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth. With one out, Miguel Andujar blooped a single into shallow left-center, and Aaron Hicks worked a walk. But after a brief meeting with pitching coach Pete Woodworth, Castillo came back to get Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out.
With Aroldis Chapman pitching a scoreless eighth for the Yankees in relief of Cole, Andres Munoz was tasked to give his team a chance to win the game in the ninth inning against the top of the Yankees order.
The young reliever, who seems to get better with each outing, did that and more. He struck out D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Mike Leake’s start against the A’s occurred in 2018, not 2008 as originally reported. It also has been updated to reflect that Felix Hernandez’s 2012 pitching opponent was Franklin Morales, not Franklin Hernandez as originally reported.