SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Talks play role in needed win

Sep 19, 2023, 9:44 AM

Seattle Mariners José Caballero...

José Caballero of the Seattle Mariners points to the dugout after he hits a home run on Sept. 18, 2023. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After losing 11 of their past 16 games and getting swept by the Dodgers in a weekend series at T-Mobile Park, the Seattle Mariners got a much-needed 5-0 win Monday night in Oakland. And while they would gladly take any variety of win, how they won the series opener – with bench players and struggling starters making key contributions – has to be encouraging as they make the final push for a postseason spot.

Woo leads Mariners in 5-0 win over A’s to gain ground in AL race

Rookie second baseman José Caballero, whose playing time has greatly diminished in the last month, broke out of a 0-for-19 stretch Monday with a 437-foot home run in his second at-bat. As he started his trot around the bases, he pointed at the dugout (see photo above) which turned out to be not an acknowledgment to the team, rather to one specific person.

“I was talking to ‘Skip’ before the game and he told me to take my A-swing instead of just chasing a hit and just go have fun,” Caballero said, referring to Mariners manager Scott Servais. “When I hit the ball, I just wanted to thank him. When I hit the ball, I just looked at the dugout.”

As it turns out, “Skip” was busy before the game. Servais also had conversations with Teoscar Hernández and Eugenio Suárez, two hitters that have cooled off considerably of late.

“I think both (Suárez) and Teo take a lot of responsibility,” Servais said. “Middle of the order guys, they know they need to produce, but at the end of the day you can’t get too big up there. You can’t be trying to hit every pitch. You can only do so much, you can only control your at-bat. That’s the big thing. When those guys are swinging at the right pitches, they are really tough to get out. They really need to get back in that mode because that is when they are at their best.”

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Suárez reached base four times in the win with two walks and two well-hit singles to left. In his walkoff interview on the Seattle Sports radio broadcast, he noted his focus was on getting the right pitch to hit.

“That is really good for me, that means I stayed on a good pitch to be able to swing,” he said of the walks. “It’s in my mind to have good at bats and put the ball in play more.”

In addition to Suárez and Caballero, Servais pointed to the contribution from a different bottom of the order – Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, Caballero and Luis Torrens – as important not just for Monday night in Oakland but moving forward, as well.

“The right-handed hitters that don’t get to play a ton, you are hoping they contribute tonight and they did,” he said. “It’s critical for us on this road trip and the remainder of the season. We need contributions from everybody. I am really happy for those guys. Those guys grinded. They don’t get many opportunities, but when they do they have got to be ready and they were ready tonight.”

Notes

• The Mariners at 82-68 have an identical record to where they were through 150 games last year.

• Starting pitcher Bryan Woo and relievers Tayler Saucedo, Justin Topa, Trent Thornton and Isaiah Campbell combined to shut out the A’s. It was the 16th shutout by the Mariners this season, a new club record.

• Thanks to the work of the pitchers above, high-leverage relievers Matt Brash and Andrés Muñoz did not have to pitch, though Brash did have to get up in the bullpen at point. Good to see with just one off day remaining on the regular season schedule.

• When Mariners field coordinator Carson Vitale took down the lineup card in the dugout at the end of the night, he pointed out to Servais a rarity for the Mariners: not a single lineup substitution had been made. No word when the last time that happened was, but Vitale, who handles the lineups, cannot remember when.

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Notebook: Kirby ready to put past comments behind him; Gonzales update
MVP? Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez making case with ‘unbelievable’ second half
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