2022 American League Wild Card Series 2
|2022 American League Wild Card Series|
90 - 72 in the AL
|2 - 0
|Toronto Blue Jays|
92 - 70 in the AL
|1||Seattle Mariners 4 Toronto Blue Jays 0||October 7||Luis Castillo (1-0) Alek Manoah (0-1)||4:07 pm|
|2||Seattle Mariners 10 Toronto Blue Jays 9||October 8||Robbie Ray (0-0) Kevin Gausman (0-0)||4:07 pm|
Game 1 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Luis Castillo (1-0); LP: Alek Manoah (0-1)|
|Home Runs: SEA - Cal Raleigh (1)|
- Attendance: 47,402
The Mariners won Game 1 in the 1st inning, taking advantage of some lack of control from Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah to score three runs. And apart from one more scratch run on a ground out in the 5th, that was all the scoring in this game. Manoah got two strikes on the first batter of the game, Julio Rodríguez, but then missed outside for ball one, followed by an inside fastball too close to Rodríguez that grazed him, putting him on first base. He advanced to second on a ground out by Ty France, then with Manoah continuing to struggle with his command, Eugenio Suarez lined a double down the right field line to score a first run, and after a long battle, Cal Raleigh drove another fastball over the right field wall for a two-run homer. That took the large crowd completely out of the game. Manoah settled down after that, although he again needed a lot of pitches to get through the 2nd, but the damage had been done.
In contrast to Manoah, Luis Castillo came out pitching as well as he ever had, justifying the huge price the M's had paid to acquire him from the Cincinnati Reds at the trading deadline. He came out with perfect command and made quick work of the Jays, who would hardly get a square hit on the ball all game. They did have a couple of chances to make the score closer, but both times it came with two outs, and they were unable to take advantage. In the 3rd, George Springer and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back singles with two outs, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had had problems delivering key hits all season, popped up a ball to short center to end the rally. In the bottom of the 5th, it was Whit Merrifield and Springer who hit two-out singles, but Bichette was the one who failed to deliver them home, hitting a weak grounder to second. By then, the M's had added an insurance run in the top of the inning, once again as the result of Rodríguez being hit by a pitch, this one with one out. France followed with a single and Rodríguez advanced to third, but when Sanchez followed with a grounder to third, the Jays were only able to get the force out of France at second, and Rodríguez came to score.
There wasn't much hitting after that. Having needed to throw a lot of pitches in the first two innings, Manoah could not go deep in the game, leaving with two outs in the 6th in favor of lefty Tim Mayza. The bullpen did its job, but John Schneider had to use five relievers to record ten outs. No such problem for Castillo: he continued pitching until one out in the 8th, then turned the ball over to Andres Munoz who recorded the final five outs while allowing only one hit, a two-out double by Matt Chapman in the 9th, the only extra-base hit and really the only well-hit ball by the Jays all game. The Mariners had had to wait 21 years to get back into the postseason, but had not wasted their first opportunity.
Game 2 @ Rogers Centre
|WP: Andres Munoz (1-0); LP: Jordan Romano (0-1); SV: George Kirby (1)|
|Home Runs: TOR - Teoscar Hernandez 2 (2); SEA - Carlos Santana (1)|
- Attendance: 47,156
To make an understatement, Game 2 was completely wild. It started with an interesting premise, the man who had won the 2021 American League Cy Young Award for Toronto, Robbie Ray but who had left as a free agent after the season, facing the man who had come in to replace him as a free agent in Kevin Gausman. It is safe to say to Gausman won that particular duel, seemingly decisively, but that turned out to be only a small part of the game. After the disastrous 1st inning by Alek Manoah the day before, Gausman seemed to be in line for another horror show today when 2B Santiago Espinal, back in the Blue Jays line-up after missing the last two weeks to an injury, misplayed the first ball hit towards him with one out. Gausman also issued a two-out walk to Cal Raleigh, but managed to get out without allowing a run by striking out Mitch Haniger. For his part, Ray retired the side in order, but the two pitchers' fortunes would reverse completely after that. Gausman got the Mariners in order in the top of the 2nd, but Ray was greeted by a double by Alejandro Kirk followed by a huge homer by Teoscar Hernandez, putting Toronto up, 2-0. Ray's problems continued in the 3rd as Espinal led off with a double, then with two outs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled up the middle to drive him in. Hernandez then led off the 4th with his second long ball of the game, and not only was the lead 4-0, but Ray was out of the game.
As the Blue Jays were getting to Ray, Gausman was settling down, retiring ten straight batters before Adam Frazier led off the 5th with a single. Carlos Santana followed with a double that bounced off the top of the fence in right field and Frazier scored on a sacrifice fly by Jarred Kelenic. However, the Mariners could not get Santana home, one of the few chances they would waste all game. Then, things fell completely apart for them, to the extent that it looked like Game 3 was a certainty. With Paul Sewald, normally a reliever used in high-leverage late-game situations on the mound, the Blue Jays got unleashed. Espinal led off with a single then after one out, Bo Bichette hit a double. Guerrero was walked intentionally to load the bases, but a passed ball scored one run and advanced the other two runners. Kirk drew a walk to load the bases again, and Hernandez was hit by a pitch, forcing in another run, making it 6-1. Matt Chapman then hit a sacrifice fly, and Danny Jansen doubled, making it 8-1 as Kirk scored. That was the end for Sewald, and the next pitcher, Diego Castillo drilled Whit Merrifield in the helmet with his first pitch, a fastball. That looked to all the world like a purpose pitch, but somehow Castillo was not ejected (Merrifield had to leave the game at the end of the inning). Espinal then grounded out to end the inning, but it looked like the Blue Jays had the game locked up.
However, Gausman had struggled in the 5th, and did so again in the 6th, giving up singles to the first three batters he faced - Ty France, Eugenio Suarez and Raleigh - to load the bases. He managed to strike out Haniger and to get Frazier to pop up to Guerrero at first base for the second out, but Jays manager John Schneider decided not to let him face Santana. Instead, he brought in lefty Tim Mayza, turning the switch-hitter around, but the move did not work as Mayza threw a wild pitch, then surrendered a gopher ball to Santana, a three-run blast that made it 8-5. The Mariners were back in the game, and every out from that point on for the Blue Jays would be a struggle. Still, the Blue Jays managed to add another run in the 7th, as Kirk singled, was forced out by Hernandez, who then stole second base after Penn Murfee took over on the mound. Chapman followed with a single, as did Espinal, but the Jays were not able to cash any more runs, stranding two runners. Still, it was a 9-5 lead with two innings to go, but another nightmarish inning from Toronto's point of view - the third of the series - took place in the 8th. That was also the inning that saw the birth of the "rally shoe", sure to become a staple of Mariners lore in future years, when a fan at the viewing party at Safeco Field on the other side of the continent put a shoe on his head to bring his team luck, and soon made throngs of followers as the superstitious charm seemed to work. Anthony Bass, normally a reliable set-up man, could not retre anyone, allowing a double to Suarez, on a ball that should have been easily caught if LF Raimel Tapia had not been positioned miles away from the third base line for some unfathomable reason, followed by an RBI single by Raleigh and another single, by Haniger. Schneider had little choice left but to bring in his closer, Jordan Romano, with six outs still needed. He allowed a soft single to Frazier that loaded the bases but then almost wiggled out of the jam. He struck out Santana and Dylan Moore, and forced J.P. Crawford to hit a soft pop-up to shallow center. SS Bichette and CF Springer both converged on the ball at full speed and both attempted to make a diving catch. Alas, they collided, the ball fell to the ground untouched, and the bases cleared as both players were hurt. Bichette stayed in the game, but an obviously woozy Springer had to be carted off the field. The game was now tied. It was only the third time that a team had managed to erase a seven-run deficit in a postseason game.
The Jays had a chance to re-take the lead in the bottom of the 8th against closer Andres Munoz, who had been electric in Game 1 but was not nearly as sharp today. He struck out Jackie Bradley Jr., who had replaced Springer, but walked Bichette who then stole second and advanced to third on a slow roller by Guerrero. But Kirk was unable to drive him in, grounding out as well after umpire Todd Tichenor missed a clear ball four. Romano, who had been worked hard in the 8th, had to return to pitch another stressful inning. He struck out the first batter, Suarez, but Raleigh doubled, and after a second out, Frazier doubled as well, putting the Mariners in front for the first time in the game. Adam Cimber got the third out, but not before walking two batters (one intentionally). Seattle Manager Scott Servais decided to send rookie starting pitcher George Kirby to close the game and he did just that in spite of a one-out walk to Chapman, who was unable to advance further. The Mariners had completed an incredible comeback to sweep the Blue Jays at home.
- Thomas Hall: "3 Blue Jays X-factors in wild-card series vs. Mariners", Yahoo! Sports, October 5, 2022. 
- Daniel Kramer: "Epic comeback clinches Mariners' ALDS berth: Despite early struggles, Seattle relies on regular-season experience to advance", mlb.com, October 8, 2022. 
- Keegan Matheson: "Blue Jays' season comes to crushing end: Toronto races out to 8-1 lead before historic Seattle rally", mlb.com, October 8, 2022. 
- Kevin Murphy: "Why Mariners fans were putting shoes on their heads", mlb.com, October 8, 2022. 
- Mike Petrielli: "Mariners-Blue Jays position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 5, 2022. 
|Major League Baseball Wild Card Series|