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Key to Mariners’ historic month? Something they doubled down on

Sep 1, 2023, 2:43 PM

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Julio Rodriguez...

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais hugs Julio Rodríguez before a game on June 27, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

When the Seattle Mariners were hovering around .500 for much of the season, there was reason for concern about their approach.

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The Mariners have stuck to their “dominate the zone” mantra ever since manager Scott Servais and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto joined the team nearly eight years ago. But with offensive struggles the main culprit for a disappointing first half in 2023, doubts about that strategy began to creep into the fanbase.

Now as September begins, the Mariners have completely turned their fortunes around. They’re tied for the lead in the American League West entering Friday with a 76-57 record, and the offense has been among the league leaders since July 1 in several important categories.

That same philosophy that had been a concern earlier in the season may deserve credit for Seattle’s turnaround at the plate, as Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith told Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy this week.

“I think one of Scott’s greatest strengths is his consistency, and I don’t really see or hear Scott waver too much from his overall message and from his overall tone,” Goldsmith said of the Mariners skipper. “Now, obviously, every manager, just like every player, will show frustration from time to time because that’s just the nature of the game. However, the Mariners never back off of who they are, what they do well – both on the mound and at the plate. When they were struggling, that was the hardest one, right? Like, they haven’t struggled on the mound, it’s been easy to stick with that plan. But the message has remained the same offensively.”

Goldsmith recalled a conversation with Servais after a particularly demoralizing loss that hammered home his point.

I talked to Scott on the side about two months ago, and it was right around the time of the Patrick Corbin loss to the Nationals (on June 28), and you’re thinking this is the low point. And I said to Scott, ‘Hey, right now, if if I go into your office and I look at your whiteboard, what’s on the top line for how this ship gets turned around?’ And his message was, ‘We have got to double down on our pitch selection. We’ve got to hammer down what it is we’ve preached not just since spring training, but for years at this point.’

… What the Mariners are trying to do is swing at good pitches, right? And how simple that is but how powerful it is. It wasn’t, ‘Let’s erase the whiteboard and come up with a new plan.’ It was, ‘I know it’s bad right now, I know it feels like rock bottom. This is the path to freedom. This is how we get it turned around. This is how we become the team that we were last year and we know that we can become.’ It wasn’t, ‘Let’s come up with a new plan,’ and I give Scott and the rest of the coaching staff a lot of credit for that.

It was the right move – easy to say in hindsight. It was the right move, and it was one that took some guts to say, ‘No, we know what the right thing is. It hasn’t worked, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.’ And they’ve doubled down on it, tripled down on it, and now we’re seeing one of the great offensive months in franchise history.

Aaron Goldsmith joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy for The Dugout, a weekly hour at 1 p.m. each Tuesday dedicated to Seattle Mariners analysis and conversations. Listen to a podcast of the full segment at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

ESPN’s Olney sees some Derek Jeter in Julio Rodríguez
How the AL West will be won: How Mariners stack up vs Rangers, Astros
Why ESPN’s Olney thinks Seattle Mariners are favorites to win AL West
• The unsung player during Mariners’ hot streak? Teoscar Hernández
• Passan: What about Seattle Mariners’ rise is and isn’t sustainable?

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Key to Mariners’ historic month? Something they doubled down on