Bad blood between Mariners, Astros? Scott Servais not aware of any

Jun 7, 2022, 2:28 PM

Mariners Astros...

The Astros and Mariners benches clear in the ninth inning Monday in Houston. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

There’s no mistaking the spiciest moment of the 2022 Mariners season thus far. That happened Monday night when both the Mariners and Astros benches cleared after Ty France was hit by a pitch that went behind his back in the ninth inning of a Seattle win.

Salk: What Servais and Julio showed in Mariners-Astros scrum

Mariners manager Scott Servais got into a shouting match with the Astros’ dugout, saying after the game he thought it was obvious that with two outs in the ninth inning, Houston’s Héctor Neris was throwing at Seattle’s best hitter.

Servais was one of four people to earn ejections stemming from two instances of Neris pitches either hitting or coming close to a Mariners batter in the inning. On Tuesday afternoon, the M’s skipper shared his side of things on the weekly Scott Servais Show on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM.

“I felt that they kind of took liberties and were maybe taking a shot at Ty France. They threw a ball behind him with two out in the ninth inning and I kind of voiced my frustration, and they didn’t like that. They voiced their frustrations and we talked about it a little bit,” Servais said about a scrum around home plate when the benches emptied.

The best part for Servais and the Mariners, though, was that in the very next at-bat, rookie Julio Rodríguez went the other way for a two-run homer that gave Seattle some important insurance in what turned out to be a 7-4 victory. It also silenced the crowd at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

“It was nice Julio stepped up after that, two-run bomb, which is awesome to see. Gave us a little cushion and nice to get that win in the first game of the series down here in Houston,” Servais said.

After the game, Astros manager Dusty Baker said that “there’s some bad blood brewing even from last year” between the two American League West rivals. Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports, who was co-hosting The Scott Servais Show with Jake Heaps on Tuesday, said to Servais that she was unaware “this was a two-way affair.”

Servais’ response?

“So was I.”

There have been some instances pointed to from last season since Monday’s incident, including the Mariners capping off a comeback from seven down on utility player Dylan Moore’s go-ahead grand slam last July in Seattle off then-Houston reliever Brooks Raley, who subsequently hit M’s shortstop J.P. Crawford with a pitch and was ejected from the game. That’s not where Servais’ head was Tuesday, however, when discussing any kind of rivalry with a Houston team that has won four of the last five AL West crowns, including last year.

“The Astros have something that we would like to get, and that’s the American League West title,” said Servais, whose team is 5-5 against Houston this year. “So we are going to scratch and claw and we have to prove that we’re worthy, and we’ve been playing much better of late. … Our guys are grinding every day. We’re at the end of a long trip and sometimes the fuses get a little bit short. But we play the Astros so much and we know them very well. We’ve had some highly-contested games and that happens over the course of time and no big deal.”

Monday’s win could be a big part of a turning point for the Mariners. While Seattle is currently 25-30, which is 10 games behind the division-leading Astros (35-20), they have won seven of their last 10 games and are starting to look a bit more like the team that went into 2022 with high expectations following a 90-win season last year.

“Absolutely, I think it wakes guys up a little bit in the fact (of) why they’re playing and what they’re playing for, and (that) they’re playing together,” Servais said when asked by Heaps if Monday’s win could galvanize the team. “I think when things like that happen, it’s also a great distraction. I’ve always believed the guys have something to talk about (after a situation like that). ‘Hey, can you believe this guy said this?’ or, ‘Screw that guy, we should have got on him.’ That type of stuff that goes on in the clubhouse, I think it brings a group together and you’re looking for some excitement.

“Like I said, we’re at kind of the end of a long trip here – I will say the clubhouse is much livelier today than it typically is so I think that maybe contributed to last night. But we’ll see. Hopefully, it carries over to tonight’s game.”

What could the Mariners players have learned from Monday’s game?

“I think it’s good for our young players to realize what’s at stake,” Servais said, “because it’s important and, you know, teams take a shot at maybe one of your guys and throw a ball behind them, it should raise everybody’s attention. It certainly got my attention last night and I thought it was uncalled for, and I think our team responded the right way. We handled things, we stepped up to the plate – like I said, Julio hit a home run, that’s the best way to handle it for sure.”

The Mariners continue their series with the Astros at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday. Coverage will be carried live on Seattle Sports beginning with the pregame show at 4.

The Scott Servais Show airs at 1 p.m. every Tuesday as part of The Dugout, an hour of Mariners analysis and interviews during Seattle Sports Station’s Jake and Stacy. Podcasts of the show are made available at 3 p.m. each Tuesday. Listen to this week’s edition at this link or in the player below.

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Bad blood between Mariners, Astros? Scott Servais not aware of any