Yankees 0, Mariners 1: An inexplicably weird and dumb game

If you are an East Coast reader who typically misses the late night games on the West Coast and checks back in the morning, be very glad you did not watch this game live. What started as an incredible pitchers’ duel between aces Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo devolved into an objectively-awful series of baserunning blunders in extra-innings. Incredibly, the game simply didn’t end after any of those mistakes and marched onto a 13th inning before the Mariners finally put the scoreless tie to bed.

Let’s start with the sane portion of this match. Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo faced off for the second time in a week, and things looked very different in the rematch. Cole wasn’t hampered by a six-run first inning this time around, working an efficient 1-2-3 inning instead. Cole would cruise through his redemption outing, tossing seven innings of mostly stress-free ball with just four hits and no walks against eight strikeouts.

That sounds like a leisurely night of pitching, but it held an edge of tension thanks to Castillo matching him zero for zero. Castillo allowed a pair of walks, but otherwise shut down the Yankees for eight innings of dominance in his third start of the season against them. The only time that they came close to threatening him came at the very end of his outing, when they managed to get runners on first and second with one out. Still, Castillo generated groundouts from Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to neutralize the problem.

The two dominant performances from the starters gave both sides free rein to unload the bullpens in pursuit of preserving the shutout. The Yankees opted to go to Aroldis Chapman for the bottom of the eighth and were rewarded with three harmless fly balls, then sent out Clay Holmes for the ninth and erased a leadoff hit-by-pitch with a beautiful double play ball. Andrés Muñoz had already struck out the side against the top of the order in the front half of the ninth inning, meaning we were off to extras.

From here, we entered a completely different world of play, and a completely mystifying one from a Yankees-centric point of view.

The Yankees didn’t get many baserunners against Castillo and Munoz, but once they were gifted a free runner to start the 10th inning something seemed to shift. The first gaffe came after Josh Donaldson was plunked to start the 10th. Andrew Benintendi was the ghost runner on second ahead of Donaldson (who got lifted for speedster Tim Locastro), but Benintendi got caught off the bag before Paul Sewald delivered the next pitch and got caught in a rundown.

That mental mistake doomed the rest of the inning, and Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar were indeed unable to score Locastro from second.

The momentum was certainly in Seattle’s favor, but Scott Effross was summoned to try and prevent the Mariners from capitalizing. He did just that, picking up an immediate strikeout before a pair of balls sent out to Aaron Judge kept the game alive.

The 11th inning began with Andújar as the ghost runner, and again there would be unforced errors on the base paths. This time, Aaron Hicks lined a ball to second base and Miggy’s first move took him too far from the bag:

Andújar was unable to get back to second on time, getting doubled off to hand Seattle another free pass through the inning. Wandy Peralta had the task of delaying the inevitable this time and did so, grabbing a hotshot right at him for an inning-ending double play.

Now to the 12th, where you wouldn’t guess it — there was another baserunning mistake. The inning opened with Trevino at second as the free runner and Kiner-Falefa at the plate, and IKF hit a ball hard right up the middle. Mariners reliever Matt Brash made an incredible grab to snare the ball immediately, pinning Trevino in a rundown after the catcher started running on contact. The Mariners corralled him at third, and then somehow managed to catch Kiner-Falefa in a rundown as well after the shortstop tried to push his way to second in the confusion. IKF eventually ran out of the basepaths and was called out, giving Seattle another free two outs.

That sequence of incompetence meant that the Yankees sent just four batters to the plate in two innings, something that has probably never happened in MLB history before — a product of the ghost runner rule, but an ugly mark regardless. It also meant that Judge was denied a chance to factor into any of those innings, instead having to wait for a 13th inning just to likely get intentionally walked.

The Yankees indeed forced a 13th inning to occur, thanks to Peralta and Lou Trivino pairing to shut down the Mariners chances again, and Judge did in fact get intentionally walked to start the 13th. There was blissfully no more baserunning madness in this inning, although New York loaded the bases and still managed not to score. Torres and Andújar both had a crack at pushing a run across, but Torres struck out in an ugly-looking at-bat and Andújar grounded a ball harmlessly to third.

The well finally broke in the bottom of the 13th. Jonathan Loáisiga was the next man up in the bullpen, the sixth reliever used after Cole’s dominant start, and that pitchers’ duel was decisively in the past by that point. Loáisiga allowed a leadoff single and then got a groundout that moved the trailing runner over to second, prompting an intentional walk to set up the double play. They wouldn’t get it this time though, as Luis Torrens slapped a ball out to right to drive home the winning run and end this marathon of improbably wild decision-making.

The Yankees had a few chances to win this one, but they also were doing everything in their power to give it away for a while. That it lasted until the 13th inning is an incredible feat, but it’s a loss all the same. They’ll have to pick themselves up and look to win the rubber match tomorrow (today) at 4:10 pm ET with Nestor Cortes on the bump against Robbie Ray.

Box Score.

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