As the sun sets on the 2022 Seattle Mariners season, fans are left grateful for their team’s success and excited to hopefully build on their performance over the coming seasons.
It began back in April, when the MLB lockout ended and the baseball season could start a week later than planned. Mariners fans were ecstatic, having come within a game of the playoffs a year prior and having clearly built upon their roster. Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, Eugenio Suarez and the reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray all came over in the offseason. Furthermore, it was announced that Julio Rodriguez and Matt Brash were named to the 26-man roster to make their MLB debuts. Rodriguez in particular was heralded as a superstar prospect with all of the tools needed to succeed.
By the end of May, spirits were somewhat deflated. Having gone 21-28 in the first two months, it felt like another doomed season that the team would need to regroup on the following year. Rodriguez was on the come-up after a miserable month of April, but Brash had been demoted to make room for another rookie, George Kirby, who hit the ground running in his first few starts. All of the offseason acquisitions were struggling, particularly Ray, who couldn’t manage a clean start to save his life.
However, Seattle found their footing and started climbing the ladder through June and into the All-Star break. The final game heading into those crucial days off had the Mariners beating the Texas Rangers 6-2 and extending their winning streak to 14. Ty France was playing incredible baseball, Rodriguez was continuing to ascend and the new addition of Carlos Santana was paying off in clutch situations. This period also featured the emergence of Sam Haggerty out of nowhere, playing every aspect of baseball nearly to perfection. He could hit, run and field with the best of them.
The Mariners notably lost their winning streak immediately exiting the All-Star break, but this was also entering their toughest stretch of the season. Playing the top two American League teams (the Houston Astros and New York Yankees) 13 times in 20 games was quite the tough stretch, but the Mariners still held their composure. They won half of the games in that stretch, including four against the Yankees, and suddenly the Mariners had the easiest stretch of schedule ahead of them and were firmly in the wild card race.
What feels like the real momentum shift came on July 30, when the Mariners traded away four minor league players to the Cincinnati Reds for stud pitcher Luis Castillo. Castillo would throw 11 starts over his time with the Mariners this season with a 3.17 ERA, earning himself a five-year, 108-million-dollar contract.
Most notably, however, was the rise of a Mariner we have come to know and love: Cal Raleigh. After being sent down to Triple-A after a truly miserable April where he had two measly hits, he hit .254 over September and October, hitting eight home runs en route to the most home runs by a Mariners catcher in franchise history at 27. This stretch included a pinch-hit, walk-off home run on Sept. 30 that secured the Mariners their first playoff spot since 2001.