Mariners look to oust Toronto behind as former Jay

TORONTO — Robbie Ray, who won the American League Cy Young Award last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, will try to eliminate his former team on Saturday afternoon with the Seattle Mariners.

The left-hander will start Game 2 of the best-of-three American League wild-card series against the Blue Jays. The Mariners won the opener 4-0 on Friday afternoon.

Ray went 13-7 with a league-leading 2.84 ERA for Toronto last season before finishing 12-12 with 3.71 ERA for Seattle this year.

“It’s going to be interesting, for sure,” Ray said. “I faced them earlier in the year and had some success, but obviously, this lineup is a really good lineup. They can hit the ball really well.

“So, I think for me it’s just focusing on one pitch at a time. That’s my game plan going into every single game and executing one pitch. Not try to be two, three pitches ahead of guys. I just need to focus on what I need to accomplish, and that’s executing one pitch at a time.”

Ray is 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in his three career postseason appearances (one start).

In three career starts against the Blue Jays, he is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA. He started once against Toronto this season, allowing one run and three hits with six strikeouts in six innings in a no-decision on July 9.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.35 ERA) in Game 2. He is 1-3 with a 2.74 ERA in eight career outings (seven starts) against the Mariners. Gausman faced Seattle once in the 2022 regular season, when he yielded two runs on seven hits in five innings while taking a loss on May 18.

In six career postseason appearances (one start), Gausman is 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA.

He left his final start of the regular season with a cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand, but interim manager John Schneider said that Gausman would be able to pitch.

Schneider said he expects Gausman to produce “more of the same of what he’s been doing all year: quality outing, get deep into the game, line up our bullpen appropriately.”

“Turning to a guy like him in a must-win game is something we feel really good about,” Schneider added. “We feel really good about a lot of guys in that situation, and especially good about Kevin. He’s been a leader in the clubhouse, a leader of the staff. He has had an amazing year, so we’re looking for just another quality outing from him.”

The Mariners got a dominating start from Luis Castillo in Game 1. The right-hander pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings with no drop in velocity.

“The fans, the energy in that moment give me that little extra boost when I’m out there,” Castillo said. “Like I said before, whenever I go up on the mound, I’m going to give everything that I have in my heart and my body to give the best I can.”

Cal Raleigh keyed the Mariners’ three-run first inning with a two-run homer, but manager Scott Servais appreciated other aspects of the catcher’s game.

“I thought our catcher did an outstanding job today,” Servais said. “Can’t give enough credit to Cal Raleigh in the pitch-calling, mixing it up, going back and forth, mixing enough sliders in there to keep them honest.

“It was awesome what he did behind the plate today. Those guys worked very well together. It was fun to watch. Again, it all goes back to dominating the strike zone, and that’s what (Castillo) did today.”

The Mariners are in the playoffs for the first time since 2001. They have won each of their past six games against the Blue Jays counting the regular season and the postseason.

–By Larry Millson, Field Level Media

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