Can Castillo help Mariners shake long postseason drought?

The Seattle Mariners’ postseason drought has stretched on for two decades. Félix Hernández couldn’t put a stop to it, and neither could Robinson Canó.

Now the Mariners are making another push for the playoffs, led by rookie star Julio Rodríguez — and newly acquired right-hander Luis Castillo.

Seattle landed Castillo in a trade Friday that sent three of the Mariners’ top prospects to Cincinnati. If nothing else, that deal showed how serious Seattle is as it tries to reach the postseason for the first time since 2001. The drought is the longest in North America’s four major men’s professional sports.

The Mariners currently hold the second of the American League’s three wild cards, but the next five teams behind them are all within four games. Fangraphs.com gives Seattle a 76.5% chance of reaching the playoffs.

The Mariners have had other chances to end their drought in recent years. Last season Seattle was tied for the final wild card with three games remaining but lost two of them. The Mariners finished two games behind the last playoff spot in the AL’s expanded postseason of 2020.

In 2018, FanGraphs gave them an 88.3% shot at the playoffs on July 5, when the Mariners were 56-32 and had a 7 1/2 game lead on Oakland for the last wild card. From that point on, Seattle went 33-41 and the Athletics were 49-26.

On May 26, 2016, the Mariners’ postseason chances were at 75.3%. They were 28-18 and leading the AL West, but they played .500 baseball the rest of the way and fell three games short of a wild card.

The 2014 team won 87 games but fell a game short of the playoffs.

LATE-INNING THRILLS

The Yankees earned their 12th walk-off victory of the season when Aaron Judge hit a ninth-inning homer to beat Kansas City on Thursday night. No team has had more walk-off wins in one year since the Cubs had 13 in 2015.

New York’s 12 walk-offs are tied for second-most through a team’s first 100 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates had 13.

That Pittsburgh team ended up winning 18 games in walk-off fashion, a feat unmatched since. And of course, that was the year before the Pirates won Game 7 of the World Series against the Yankees on a walk-off homer by Bill Mazeroski.

Judge has three of New York’s five game-ending homers this year. The other two were hit by Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo.

The Yankees also have five walk-off singles — by Judge, Torres, Josh Donaldson, and two by Jose Trevino. Donaldson has a walk-off sacrifice fly to his credit, and New York had another win on a game-ending wild pitch.

TRIVIA TIME

Judge leads the majors with his three walk-off homers. Name the three other players who have two this year.

LINE OF THE WEEK

The night after his game-ending homer, Judge took it to Kansas City again, going deep twice — including a grand slam — and finishing with six RBIs in New York’s 11-5 win. He also robbed a home run in the outfield.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

The Los Angeles Angels enjoyed a nice moment amid a dreadful season when they scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Texas Rangers 9-7 on Saturday night. According to Baseball Savant, the Angels had only a 6.5% chance of winning in the eighth.

David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo each hit two-run doubles during the big Los Angeles rally.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Houston’s Jeremy Pena, Pittsburgh’s Jack Suwinski and Minnesota’s Byron Buxton have two each.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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