Facing the first batter of his professional career, Ryan Castellani tossed three straight pitches past J.P. Crawford to earn his first strikeout.
“It was huge, just like deep breath that kind of helped me settle in,” Castellani said. “Drew (Butera) just did a great job back there, kind of settling me down, you know, kind of giving me the signs, just, ‘Hey, slow down a little bit, take a deep breath’ and, after that it was just kind of smooth sailing from there.”
The at-bat was a sign of things to come.
Making his major league debut in front of an empty stadium, Castellani and the rest of the Rockies pitching staff were dominant, hurling a combined one-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Mariners on Saturday in Seattle. The team is now an MLB-best 11-3, and 6-1 on the road.
“I just told him that I was so excited for him, that he had pitched so well in his debut,” Rockies’ manager Bud Black said. “That is something that all of us will remember you know when we think of his major league debut.”
The Rockies haven’t lost away from Coors Field since their opening day defeat to the Texas Rangers. Saturday’s win also secures the series win — the Rockies’ fifth straight to start the season.
Getting the ball just a day after he was recalled from the taxi squad to make the spot start in place of Chi Chi Gonzalez, Castellani looked like a veteran on the mound at T-Mobile Park.
The 24-year-old was perfect through four innings, leaving in the fifth without surrendering a hit. He also struck out three, and became just the second player in Rockies history to retire the first 12 batters he faced in his debut since Tyler Matzek sat down 13 consecutive batters June 11, 2014, according to STATS Research.
“The thing that was impressive to me was just his mound presence, his poise,” Black said. “He looked under control delivery-wise, he didn’t overthrow the ball. I thought he and Drew were in great rhythm the whole night. There was just so many positives tonight for Ryan that you really like to see that and the guy’s first game, it was really cool stuff.”
The Mariners also called on a spot starter Saturday. But once Seattle turned to the bullpen, Colorado was finally able to get Castellani some run support.
A double and a walk to start the fifth led Seattle manager Scott Servais to pull Anthony Misiewicz (0-1) for Joey Gerber. Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story then singled to load the bases and bring up the hot-hitting Charlie Blackmon. He launched a double deep off the wall in right to clear the bases and give the Rockies a 3-0 lead. Blackmon later scored on a Daniel Murphy base hit.
Saturday was another great night for Blackmon, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games. For the first three innings, the four-time all-star was the only player who reached base. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single, a walk, three RBIs and a run scored. Murphy also had a nice night, going 3-for-5 with an RBI.
“He’s hitting all pitches,” Black said about Blackmon. “He’s hitting them whether you know
where the ball’s located, he’s taking the ball to left field, he’s taking it up the middle, you know. If it falls on the inner third he is driving the ball to right field. I mean he’s just really having great
quality at bats and squaring up pitches, he’s not expanding the zone, all the things that you preach.”
Colorado picked up another run in the sixth on a two-out Story single to wrap up the scoring. Every player but one in the starting lineup reached base.
The Mariners finally broke the no-hitter up in the bottom of the sixth after Crawford singled up the middle against Jeff Hoffman (2-0), who added three innings of long relief to get the win. That was essentially all the Rockies bullpen allowed though, and Yency Almonte and Phillip Diehl wrapped things up.
The Rockies will go for the series sweep against the Mariners at 2:10 p.m. Sunday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Rockies RHP German Marquez (2-1, 1.89) at Mariners LHP Justus Sheffield (0-2, 9.23)
2:10 p.m. Sunday, T-Mobile Park
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Marquez toes the rubber for the series finale looking to keep his dominant start going, as the right-hander has racked up 23 strikeouts through three outings and boasts a 0.89 WHIP. He makes his second career start against Seattle, and Dee Gordon is the only current Mariners player to record a hit off him. Meanwhile, Sheffield has given up four runs in each of his two starts of 2020, and the southpaw is making his first career start against Colorado.
Trending: With his quality start, and win, on Friday night in the series opener in Seattle, Antonio Senzatela became just the seventh Rockies starter since 2000 to begin the season 3-0. The last to do so was Jeff Hoffman in 2017.
At issue: Rookie Sam Hilliard has struggled offensively in the eight games he’s played. The slugging outfielder is hitting .208 with 12 strikeouts in 24 at-bats, with just two extra-base hits.
Monday: Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (1-2, 9.45) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (0-1, 3.31), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.81) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (2-0, 2.41), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Diamondbacks RHP Luke Weaver (0-3, 12.19) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.65), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM