Rookie starters set to battle as Mariners host Blue Jays

League: MLB

Posted on: 06 Jul, 2024 at 08:15 AM

Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a behind-the-scenes hero, the Seattle Mariners took the series opener against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

The Mariners will hope for more all-around assistance Saturday afternoon when they seek to clinch the three-game set.

Seattle emerged with a 2-1 victory on Friday with the help of replay coordinator Andy Bissell.

Luis Castillo pitched 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball in the win, but the Mariners would have taken their sixth shutout loss of the season if not for a successful video review that led to both of their runs in the third inning.

With Cal Raleigh on first base following a two-out walk, Julio Rodriguez hit a grounder to third baseman Ernie Clement. Rodriguez was originally called out, but Bissell called for a review that determined first baseman Spencer Horwitz's foot came off the bag as he fielded a one-hop throw from Clement.

Rodriguez was credited with an infield single, and Luke Raley followed with a double to left-center field that brought home both runners.

"He nailed it," Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Bissell, who works in a small office located under the first base seats at T-Mobile Park, sandwiched between the Mariners' dugout and clubhouse. "There were 35,000 people in the stands wondering why we were challenging that play, but that's why he's got like 16 different camera angles."

Bissell, in his fifth season with the Mariners, has just 15 seconds from the time a play ends to make a recommendation to Servais about challenging a call.

"When the clock is ticking, you have to make a call," Servais said. "It's a tough job and happens super fast, but glad he was on top of it.

"You don't want to waste a challenge that early in the game. With two outs, it kept the inning going and turned out to be the right call."

The victory was the second in a row for the Mariners, who maintained their two-game lead over the second-place Houston Astros in the American League West.

Kevin Kiermaier homered with one out in the sixth inning for the Blue Jays, the AL East cellar-dwellers who lost for the 13th time in 17 games. Horwitz followed with a single before Castillo got Bo Bichette to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Those were the only two hits the Blue Jays managed as three Seattle relievers combined for 2 1/3 perfect innings.

"These guys pitch. They're up there with the best arms in the league," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of the Mariners. "There weren't many opportunities. Castillo was really good, their bullpen is really good and they didn't really give us much room to work with."

The Saturday game will feature a pair of rookie right-handers facing their opponent for the first time. The Blue Jays are scheduled to send Yariel Rodriguez (0-3, 4.63 ERA) to the mound against the Mariners' Emerson Hancock (3-3, 4.79), who is set to be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday.

Rodriguez, who was sidelined from April 30-June 20 because of thoracic spine inflammation, nearly got his first major league victory Monday against visiting Houston when he allowed just one run on two hits in 6 2/3 innings. Jeremy Pena hit a solo homer off Rodriguez, and the Blue Jays didn't score until the bottom of the ninth in a 3-1 defeat.

Hancock will be making his first major league appearance since June 13, filling in for Bryan Woo (strained right hamstring). Hancock was the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the month in June when he allowed just two earned runs in 21 1/3 innings (0.84 ERA).

--Field Level Media