JAKE AND STACY

Mariners growing confidence through close wins, so what’s been the key?

Jul 6, 2021, 4:31 PM

Mariners J.P. Crawford Scott Servais...

The Mariners are 10-1 in extra innings and 19-7 in one-run games. (Getty)

(Getty)

The Mariners opened up T-Mobile Park to full capacity for the first time since 2019 on Friday, and they responded that night with what has become a trademark of this surprising team: a walkoff win in extra innings.

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After the Texas Rangers evened the scored 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning, the Mariners prevented Texas from scoring the automatic runner at second base in the 10th inning, setting the table for Jake Fraley’s RBI single to end the game.

While the Mariners (45-40) have won plenty of games in extra innings in 2021, this game – and the entire series against the Rangers – felt a little different, according to manager Scott Servais.

“It’s been a huge difference, the fan support,” he said Tuesday on the weekly Scott Servais Show on 710 ESPN Seattle. “They’ve opened up the ballpark up now and you certainly can feel a much different vibe, and I’m really hoping that fans come out here as we have this big remainder of the homestand heading into the All-Star break because it really does help our guys.”

That homestand continues Tuesday night with the first of three games against the scuffling New York Yankees (42-41, including 2-7 over their nine games), followed by a three-game set against Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels (42-42) to close out the first half of the season.

Games like last Friday’s have been a regular occurrence for the M’s, whether they’re of the one-run variety (Seattle is 19-7 in those games) or make it all the way to extra innings, where the M’s are a staggering 10-1. And as Servais detailed, that’s been helping his young team come together.

“You’re seeing a group of young players that are starting to grab footing at the major league level and feel like they belong,” he said. “Confidence amongst the group is really growing and you’ve seen that with the number of wins we’ve had where we’re hanging around, maybe we’re a little bit behind around mid-game, but all of the sudden we get a rally going.”

It’s worth pointing out that while the Mariners handled the lowly Rangers (33-52) to win the weekend series, Seattle had just one player named an All-Star on Sunday – pitcher Yusei Kikuchi – and Texas had three – Joey Gallo, Kyle Gibson and Adolis García. That speaks to something else Servais highlighted.

“It’s not just been one or two guys, it’s been everybody contributing,” he said. “When everybody’s chipping in and they’re not really so concerned about their statistics, they’re just doing whatever the game is asking them to do. They’re executing really well and everybody starts to believe in each other, and that’s what we’ve got going on right now. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Servais did single out one part of his team, however, for being a key in all of those close wins.

“I can’t give enough credit to our bullpen. The guys out of the bullpen have just been fantastic, and they’ve allowed us to come back in those games because they’ve put up zeroes in big moments and kept the game right there for us.”

A word on the offense

The Mariners closed out their impressive June and have rolled right into July with much more production than they had offensively for the first two months of the season. Here’s what Servais had to say about that:

“Obviously offensively we really picked it up. We needed to; we got off to such a slow start there in April. Started to come out of it a little bit in May, but in June I thought we were much more efficient offensively, more consistent. I think Jake Fraley had a lot to do with that. Luis Torrens has really swung the bat well with power since he’s come back from Tacoma. Shed Long’s chipped in some, but the top of the list, obviously J.P. Crawford’s been driving the train. He’s been outstanding, very consistent really from the get-go.”

You can hear the full Scott Servais Show at this link or in the player below, and catch it live at 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday during Jake and Stacy, with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer joining Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost for the interview.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

More Mariners coverage from 710Sports.com

• Groz: Next order of business? Pick up All-Star Kikuchi’s option
• Even if J.P. Crawford isn’t an All-Star, he’s been the Mariners’ star
• Dipoto: Kelenic, Raleigh and top arms closing in on M’s promotions
Mariners’ Andy McKay: M’s aren’t hot, just showing glimpse of ‘true ability’
• Dipoto: M’s appear ready for ‘next step,’ may add at trade deadline

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Mariners growing confidence through close wins, so what’s been the key?