Rowland-Smith: Mariners’ ‘big wake-up call’ may be what they needed
The Mariners’ final road trip of the 2022 regular season went extremely poorly, and was capped off by the team’s worst loss of the year.
Not only did Seattle go 3-7 on the trip, but the M’s blew an 11-2 lead by allowing 11 runs in a single inning to the Kansas City Royals in a 13-12 loss in the final game of the road trip.
The good news for the Mariners is the poor trip didn’t impact their playoff standings or odds all that much as they enter Tuesday with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, but Seattle certainly has not been playing like a playoff team for the last two weeks.
While the disastrous loss to the Royals may be something the Mariners want to turn the page on, former M’s pitcher and current ROOT Sports and Mariners radio analyst Ryan Rowland-Smith thinks that kind of loss may be just what the team needed. He explained why Monday afternoon with Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
“You’re in a situation with the Mariners, they keep checking out the nerd stats of the probability of them making the postseason and they see the 99% … They’re looking at this going, ‘Oh, well, we can just kind of run through a tough road trip. Look, we’re sitting with some cushion.’ You go back 12 months ago, that wasn’t the case. They were chasing last year,” he said.
The Mariners had Monday off and are coming back home to finish the regular season with 10 games at T-Mobile Park, and they should have some big crowds as they look to clinch a playoff spot. Overall, the timing worked out well as far as when Seattle’s brutal loss happened. And that it happened in general may be a blessing in disguise, Rowland-Smith said.
“I just think this was a big wake-up call to say, ‘Listen, we have some holes, and we can’t get comfortable. We have to keep our foot on the gas.’ That’s what this game told me,” he said.
Rowland-Smith doesn’t think the Mariners are “choking under the pressure” of trying to clinch a playoff spot.
“That’s not the case at all. They’re banged up, they’re exhausted – I get that. They are exhausted because they’ve been pushing and pushing for so long to get out of that 10 games under .500,” he said, referring to Seattle’s record on June 19 of 29-39. “And now all of a sudden, here they are in a good spot and they’ve lost Julio Rodríguez and Eugenio Suárez. Man, that’s massive. The energy has just been zapped.”
In Sunday’s loss, some Mariners relievers, most notably Matt Brash, struggled to come in and throw strikes. Rowland-Smith shared his thoughts on that.
“I guarantee you, when you’re in the bullpen and you have Luis Castillo pitching and you have a (big) lead, you’re sitting in the bullpen and you’re not thinking about pitching. Next thing you know (you’re told to) get going. He was caught flat-footed,” he said of Brash. “So all these little things I’m talking about, I think, was a really good slap in the face to say, ‘Listen, you guys cannot take your foot off the gas. If I need you to throw two innings, if I need you these last two starts to be the biggest starts to your career, it’s going to happen,’ and I think that’s what (Sunday) did.”
Rowland-Smith was “really glad” when he heard that manager Scott Servais addressed the team in a closed-door meeting after Sunday’s loss.
“I’m so happy he addressed the team. Not to rip them, but just to look them all in the eye and say, ‘Look, we’re good. We’re all good. But we cannot take our foot off the gas,'” Rowland-Smith said. “So I think (Sunday), honestly as embarrassing as it was for the team, it might not be a bad thing because all the pieces are going to slowly start to come together these next 10 days.”
You can listen to the full conversation in the podcast at this link or in the player below.