SEATTLE — For the folks that determine the individual player ratings for the popular video game “MLB The Show,” Ty France has a message for you — improve his ratings … now.
Hours before he was the hitting hero for the Seattle Mariners in their 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Guardians, breaking up a scoreless game that was giving the crowd of sold-out 45,268, uncomfortable deja vu of the last game of played T-Mobile Park, which ended in frustrating defeat, the amiable France was at his locker venting his frustration.
His player ratings on “MLB The Show” were brought up, including his speed of 11 out of 100.
“I stopped playing because they were all way too low,” he said half joking/half serious. “You can tweet that.”
France then went out and delivered a performance worthy of a ratings adjustment.
After seven frustrating innings of stranded runners lost opportunities and no runs, France drove in the only runs in the game, smashing a deep fly ball over the wall in right field for a three-run homer.
James Karinchak, a twitchy right-hander for Cleveland, was clearly bothered by a pitch clock violation that energized the crowd. A controversial walk to J.P. Crawford only bothered him more. He hit Kolten Wong with a pitch to bring France to the plate.
It was France’s third hit in a game where the Mariners had seven total. He also had a single in his first at-bat and a double to deep center field that might have verified the low speed ratings.
Meanwhile starting pitcher Luis Castillo and the Mariners pitching staff performed up to their ratings and expectations.
Castillo tossed six shutout innings, allowing just one hit with no walks and six strikeouts. The one hit made a packed stadium and nearly every Mariners fan watching on television gasp in terror. Leading off the third inning, rookie outfielder Will Brennan ripped a 96-mph line drive right back at Castillo’s face. With minimal time to react or get his hands up to catch it, Castillo instinctively turned his head. The ball glanced off his shoulder and clipped his dreadlocks, loosening the ponytail and knocking his hat to the ground.
The Mariners staff was on the field immediately to see if Castillo was hurt. After a brief conversation, a resituating of his dreads and readjustment of his cap, Castillo tossed a warm-up pitch and pronounced himself ready to resume. He struck out Mike Zunino, Myles Straw and Steven Kwan to end the inning and didn’t allow another base runner the rest of his outing.
Before the game, manager Scott Servais made it clear that he wouldn’t push Castillo to 100 pitches. With Castillo at 76 pitches and the Guardians’ 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate for the third time in the game, Servais went to his bullpen.
Of the pitchers to toss six-plus scoreless innings on opening day, Castillo doing Felix Hernandez, who did it in 2013 and 2007 and Randy Johnson in 1995.
Matt Brash worked a scoreless seventh inning, flashing his usual nasty stuff. Paul Sewald handled the eighth without incident. It got a little tense in the ninth when Andres Munoz allowed a single to Amed Rosario and a double to Jose Ramirez with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of hulking Josh Bell. But Munoz got his first save of the season, coaxing a ground ball to France at first base to end the game.