SHANNON DRAYER

Seattle Mariners Notebook: Will dramatic win give M’s a jump?

Apr 10, 2024, 8:37 PM

Seattle Mariners Toronto Blue Jays...

Seattle Mariners players celebrate their win over Toronto on April 10, 2024. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

(Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Nevermind the drama of Cal Raleigh vs. Blue Jays manager John Schneider, who slighted the Seattle Mariners catcher last year. Entertaining as it is, the ball that Raleigh hit in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s 6-1 win off reliever Tim Mayza in Toronto left the park because his process was solid, his plan perfectly executed.

Beef Continues: Cal Raleigh burns Blue Jays manager after big HR

“We know he’s a sinkerballer and he’s going to try to get a ground ball to the pull side,” Raleigh said, “so really trying to stay on the ball just trying to move the runner and OK, got the barrel out there. You’re just trying to do a job and then catching a little out front and it went out.”

The home run followed a defensive play in the previous inning that saved the game for the Mariners, with second baseman Jorge Polanco making an over the shoulder catch in no-man’s land for out No. 3 with the bases loaded.

While he struggled in the field Tuesday with miscues that included a costly drop of a Raleigh attempt to throw out a baserunner trying to steal second, Polanco made two catches that helped give the team a chance to win the game.

“I will say huge, huge play in the game, and there’s plays like that that we haven’t been making,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But Polo got a good jump on it. It’s funny, you sit in the dugout, you have premonitions. You kind of see things happen before they happen. And just before that, I said to (Mariners bench coach Manny Acta), ‘Hey, we should probably get Hanny (right fielder Mitch Haniger) in, move Hanny in,’ and the next pitch goes right in that spot and I’m holding my breath. And luckily Polo was able to make the play, but that’s what you’ve got to do. Big league games, you’ve got to make plays like that late in the game to help your pitching out, and we did today.”

The pitching by Logan Gilbert did not need much help. With the team having been outscored 45-14 in innings 1 through 5 to start the season, Gilbert filled the role Wednesday of a very needed “stopper,” keeping the Blue Jays off the board for six innings. He allowed the only run to the Blue Jays on one of his few misses of the day, a slider in the seventh inning that stayed up in the middle of the plate that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. pounded 459 feet out to left field.

“He was great,” Raleigh said of Gilbert. “We needed that today. It was huge. We didn’t come out swinging it too hot today. (Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi) was pretty good and we needed that kind of step up from a guy like that in the clubhouse, and he came up big for us. That’s what we needed especially after ‘Louie’ (Luis Castillo) and George (Kirby) were very unlike themselves the first two games. And you know, I think he had a chip on his shoulder too. He hasn’t pitched great against the Blue Jays in years past, they always just got him with one big inning. For him to go out and do that today was huge.”

All ills aren’t fixed with one feel-good win in Toronto. The offense did struggle early with just three hits before the 10th inning, but Servais saw a collective exhale with the club after the Raleigh home run that he hopes can extend past the off day Thursday.

“We’ve been waiting for a big hit for quite a while,” Servais said of his 5-8 club. “I tell you what it does when somebody does something like that, it just relaxes the whole group. And now you start to see the the freedom, the guys just playing baseball, and you saw that in the at-bats after it. So again, hopefully this can springboard the rest of our club going forward here when we go back on the homestand.”

Haniger’s perspective on Seattle Mariners’ start

On the Mariners radio pregame show Wednesday, Mitch Haniger talked about the struggles we are seeing from the offense, including making adjustments from spring training to in-season games.

“I think it’s different for every guy. Sometimes it’s mechanical, sometimes it’s approach,” he said. “I can’t speak to what each individual feels but I think as a collective, as a lineup, as a whole, to me it just seems most guys aren’t picking the ball up well or they’re in between or they’re trying to cover too many pitches, which leads to swing and miss and chase.

“We need to get back to hunting our pitch and being stubborn and being picky at the plate. I think that’s generally what most guys do when they’re when they’re swinging the bat well, and unfortunately right now it seems like the whole lineup is going through a little bit of a funk. We’re not scoring many runs at all each night, which is definitely not a good feeling. You hope throughout the season there’s just like a couple of guys that are going through a funk and not almost all nine, so that’s never a fun thing.”

Haniger is encouraged by the work he’s seeing his teammates put in and believes in the talent around him. As they work toward getting on track, Haniger feels it is important the Mariners don’t let the spotlight from the outside on the beginning of the season skew the perspective inside the clubhouse.

“That’s something I’ve talked to guys about,” he said. “It’s literally 12 games. We want to start off well. We don’t want to be 4-8, but at the same time, I’ve been on teams where we started off extremely high. Everybody thought we going to win the World Series and we sucked so you want to start well, but at the end of the day, at the end of 162 games, if you play well and you’re consistent throughout the whole year, people are going to forget how you start. As a team and individually we’re not trying to make too much of it, although we’re not happy with how things started.”

Notes

• Servais said before the game Wednesday that reliever Matt Brash recently threw a live batting practice at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Ariz., which would indicate he is making good progress.We should learn more before the homestand opener against the Cubs on Friday when general manager Justin Hollander is scheduled to give a full injury report on the team.

• Servais said the Mariners’ pitching staff will stay in rotation through the upcoming off days. With three days off in the next 12, they could juggle the order or skip a start, but for now the plan is to keep things the way they are.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Why Passan is ‘not there yet’ on panicking about Mariners
• What Servais said about slow starts for Julio, Castillo and M’s
• Seattle Mariners Roster Moves: Seven players involved in flurry
• Mariners Notebook: Thoughts on offense, more from the road
• Seattle Mariners infielder tests the limits with impossibly slow pitch

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Seattle Mariners Notebook: Will dramatic win give M’s a jump?