Notebook: Mariners take talk from manager Scott Servais to heart
It was 10 days ago that the Mariners lost a game in Chicago in front of a national baseball audience in which they gave a up six-run lead and allowed a pitcher to pinch-hit bunt in the winning run, amid a number of other miscues and missed opportunities. They followed it up with a lackluster 2-1 loss on a blown save by their closer in their homestand opener against Boston, a game they perhaps played bleary-eyed considering they arrived in Seattle at 4 a.m. that morning.
Since then, they have gone 7-1, playing perhaps some of their best baseball of the year.
When it looked like they could be heading in one direction, they reversed course, and in the process pulled to within 2 1/2 half games of a Wild Card spot entering Thursday’s homestand finale. A lot of players have pointed to the Ken Griffey Jr. celebration last weekend and the atmosphere it created at the ballpark as one of the things that got them on a roll. A talk from manager Scott Servais early in the homestand may have helped, as well.
With the trade deadline past the Mariners and Servais’ team mostly intact, he told his players that it was time to start taking chances, play smart baseball, but not be afraid to fail. The work has been put in since Day 1 of spring training. It was time to play. Time to go for it. If they wanted a chance to play beyond Oct. 3, Servais told them they had to play like they had nothing to lose.
“We are playing loose,” said Servais when asked if that style of play was in part responsible for what we have seen on the homestand. “I think when you play tight or think you have something to lose… We have nothing to lose. I’ve said it for the last two weeks. That’s how we need to play and that’s how we are going about it. Just have fun. Whether it’s we acquire a new player and we fire him in there in the eighth inning or the 12th inning, or whatever it is, just go do your job. You want to create an environment where people come in, they get comfortable very quick and they contribute right away, and I think that has happened.”
It has certainly happened in the bullpen, where Thursday night there is a new face in Jarrett Grube, who was scratched from his start with the Rainiers this morning and will be available to pitch.
“He was the guy who was available, the freshest arm,” said Servais. “We certainly need some help if this game gets crazy at all. That was the reason for bringing him.”
Grube, who Servais signed to a minor-league deal with the Angels when he was scouting director, is a neat story. At 34 he has pitched in the minor leagues for the past 12 years. In 2014 he made his one appearance in the bigs, pitching an 2/3 of an inning with the Angels.
“I’ve definitely played quite a few years, not a lot of big-league experience, but a lot of experience in general around the world,” said Grube in a pregame radio interview. “I’ve faced quite a few big leaguers, but it’s all just kind of my journey. Right now I couldn’t be happier being up here with everybody.”
After opting out of a deal with the Indians earlier this season, Grube was given a look by the Mariners, pitching Leonys Martin’s sim game at Safeco Field on June 8. The next day he was signed and assigned to Tacoma. Tonight he is with the big-league team.
• ICYMI: Charlie Furbush will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair his partially torn rotator cuff.
• To make room for Grube on the 40-man roster, the Mariners DFA’d Luis Sardinas. The addition of Mike Freeman and Shawn O’Malley’s demonstrated ability to play shortstop left Sardinas expendable. “Luis broke camp with us, was here a couple of times, got a little opportunity to play,” noted Servais. “With what Freeman brings and really the emergence of Shawn O’Malley created a little bit different scenario than we originally left camp with. We like what Mike Freeman brings, a different type of player. We just thought it was maybe a better fit with us going forward with Freeman.”
• Ariel Miranda will be available in the bullpen in the finale with the Tigers. If he doesn’t pitch he could start Friday as originally scheduled. Although he pitched just one inning Tuesday night, he threw a bullpen earlier in the day so Friday is in question regardless.
• James Paxton was scheduled to play catch today. He continues to show progress with his elbow contusion, and while his next start date has yet to be announced, it appears it could be next Tuesday.
• Steve Cishek played catch for the first time since going on the DL with a torn hip labrum. He said his hip felt good and that he was very happy with the drive and downward action he was able to get on the ball. He is eligible to come off the DL Aug. 17.
• There were a number of questions about why Servais lifted Robinson Cano for a pinch runner with two out in the 12th inning of last night’s ballgame. Cano has not been running well at all of late; he is extremely beat up and has looked like the Michelin Man with ice on all four limbs after games this week. That was a factor. “The situation in last night’s game, where we are at, didn’t have much left in the bullpen, if Cruz hits a ball in the gap we certainly wanted to try to score him. That’s why O’Malley was in there. Robbie, it’s that point in the year where everything doesn’t feel good every day,” Servais said.