With each day, second-year catcher Cal Raleigh’s leadership role with the Seattle Mariners expands.
Raleigh guided Logan Gilbert through six scoreless innings, threw out a baserunner and hit a two-run homer as the Mariners defeated the visiting Chicago White Sox 3-0 Tuesday night.
Raleigh and the scoreless will try to win the three-game series when it wraps up Wednesday afternoon.
Raleigh was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma in late April when he was batting just .083, only to return 10 days later when Tom Murphy sustained a season-ending shoulder injury. Now he leads all major league catchers with 23 homers.
“If you look at how the season started for him and where he’s at right now, I don’t think you could have predicted this,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s not just the home runs and what he’s done offensively, but the job he does behind the plate. He makes an impact every night whether he gets a hit or homer or not.”
With one out and runners at the corners in the sixth inning on Tuesday, with Seattle clinging to a 1-0 lead, Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth made a trip to the mound to confer with Gilbert. However, it was Raleigh who did most of the talking. Gilbert responded by striking out the next two batters.
In the next inning, Raleigh helped rookie pitcher Matt Brash by throwing out Chicago’s Adam Engel trying to steal second after a leadoff single.
“It’s something you can take pride in every day,” Raleigh said of his work behind the plate. “You’re not gonna go out and hit a home run or even (get) a hit every day. That’s just how it is. But you can always go back there and try to control the opposing hitters, take care of your pitcher out there. That’s number one. The hitting comes second.”
Lately, though it’s been a close second.
Raleigh, who hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning on Tuesday, has five homers and 11 RBIs over his past seven games as the Mariners close in on their first playoff berth since 2001.
Seattle (77-59) is 19-2 in games in which Raleigh goes deep.
“Well, I guess I need to homer more then,” he quipped.
The White Sox (68-68) lost for just the third time in eight games without manager Tony La Russa, who is on indefinite leave due to health issues.
“It just happens, you know,” acting manager Miguel Cairo of the latest defeat. “We played really good. … The guys battled.”
White Sox center fielder Luis Robert left in the middle of the fifth inning due to a bruised left hand and is considered day-to-day. Robert was hit in the back of the hand while swinging at an inside pitch earlier in the game.
“He was holding the bat a little funny, so we just took him out,” Cairo said. “It was a precaution. The finger was a little swollen.”
White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech (4-9, 3.58 ERA), who has been out since Aug. 23 with a strained left knee, is scheduled to return to start the series finale.
Kopech will be making his first career start against Seattle. He had a scoreless two-inning relief appearance vs. the Mariners last year.
The Mariners are set to counter with right-hander Luis Castillo (6-5, 2.71 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts since he was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline. He is 0-0 with a 1.35 in one previous career start vs. the White Sox, for the Reds in 2018.