By JANIE McCAULEY | AP Baseball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Even out on Puget Sound during an off-day fishing excursion last week, Luis Castillo did his share of winning: He pulled in the most salmon and left Mariners manager Scott Servais in awe and admiring his skill set yet again.
No surprise to anybody in Seattle the way Castillo’s spectacular season is going.
“I’m a guy who loves to fish,” Castillo explained with a smile after his latest pitching gem. “There’s always been the saying out there that in the sea life is sweeter. It was a happy moment with Scott and the pitching coach. We had a beautiful morning.”
J.P. Crawford homered in the ninth inning and Jarred Kelenic hit a pair of RBI singles to support Luis Castillo’s eighth consecutive winning decision, leading Seattle past the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Tuesday night.
Castillo (14-7) struck out eight over seven innings, topping 200 Ks while pushing toward 200 innings — a mark that will mean more to him given it shows how dependable and competitive he has been.
In all 31 starts, Castillo has lasted at least five innings.
“He loves to fish,” Servais said. “The little things about players, the things that you can connect with them with are so valuable. That’s what it’s about, it’s about relationships, trusting guys. And we trust the Rock, anytime, against anybody, in any situation. It’s fun to get to know him because there’s a lot going on inside. He caught more fish, but it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun.”
Castillo has won three straight starts and is 8-0 over his last 12 since a July 14 loss to Detroit. Castillo needs one win to match his season high, set with Cincinnati in 2019.
Seattle (83-68) remained tied with Texas for the last AL wild card berth and closed within a half-game of AL West-leading Houston (84-68).
“Wow, I can’t say enough about the season Luis Castillo has had,” Servais said. “He just keeps adding on, awesome outing tonight. He has been so solid. He is the rock. Every time out there he’s given us great effort, a chance to win and he’s on a great roll right now. … I hope he’s got a few more outings like that in him, we’re going to need it here down the stretch.”
The A’s (46-105) lost their sixth straight and fell 59 games below .500 for the first time since the Philadelphia A’s were 47-106 on Oct. 2, 1920.
Oakland manager Mark Kotsay was ejected in the fifth by first base umpire Jansen Visconti for arguing a check swing. Then later that inning Julio Rodriguez’s single was overturned upon review after the A’s challenged. Rodriguez then singled in the ninth for his first hit at the Coliseum this season in 16 at-bats.
The game was played under smoky skies from wildfires in Northern California and Oregon.
Crawford and Teoscar Hernandez each added RBI doubles for Seattle, which jumped on A’s starter Paul Blackburn (4-6) early. He is 5-12 over 27 career games versus AL West teams.
He appreciated Castillo’s day, too.
“It’s fun to watch that guy pitch,” Blackburn said, “and when he’s on, he’s definitely hard to hit.”
The A’s, who avoided being shut out for the 16th time after a 5-0 defeat Monday, are 1-11 against Seattle this season with one game remaining.
A day after Esteury Ruiz stole two more bases to give him 61 on the year, the Oakland outfielder was caught stealing following a third-inning single — just his 11th time being caught all season.
Ruiz needs six more to break Kenny Lofton’s AL rookie record of 66 set in 1992.
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Athletics: OF JJ Bleday, sidelined since Aug. 14 with a sprained left knee, ran the bases with sliding incorporated and hit early batting practice off the machine. He is scheduled to repeat that baseball activity Thursday then begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday playing seven innings of defense before serving as designated hitter Saturday. He could rejoin the A’s for their series in Minnesota beginning Tuesday.
Mariners: C Cal Raleigh returned to the lineup following his first day off since July 26 in Monday’s series-opening shutout. He added an RBI single in the seventh and also scored a run on a wild pitch by Easton Lucas.
RHP George Kirby (10-10, 3.57 ERA) pitches Wednesday afternoon’s series finale for Seattle having gone 2-0 for his career vs. Oakland over five previous starts, while the A’s send RHP Joey Estes to the mound for his major league debut. He will be the 61st pitcher in Oakland history to start in his debut and fifth this season.