It was an all-too-familiar script.
The Seattle Mariners, your Seattle Mariners, have long been the masters of setting up a beautiful picnic, only to whisk away the blanket and let your beautiful food spoil on the dirt. They’ve been doing this for two decades now, so you’d be forgiven if you took one look at Darren McCaughan and scoffed at last night’s game.
And, of course, you’d be extra forgiven if you saw him allow six runs in the first inning and shut the whole damn thing off.
Perhaps, like me, you have your MLB notifications turned on for every single score in a Mariners game; perhaps you felt a buzz and looked down to see Cal Raleigh make it a 7–3 game with a single swing of his bat. Did this convince you to tune back in? Well, after all, we’ve had thwarted comebacks before. What kind do you want? Midseason swoons? Red-hot Aprils followed by fifty feet of crap? Late September heartbreak? We’re Mariners fans, you remind yourself, we’ve seen this movie before.
Yet despite all of that — despite ALL rationality, despite whatever those pesky advanced metrics say (shoot, even some of the regular ol’ metrics) — admit it: These Mariners have something a little different in them. It’s hard to quantify, it’s hard to describe, but so far this season, they’ve just figured it out.
So when Kyle Seager, beard now flecked with grey, lasered one out to right field to cut the deficit to two, it hit different.
When Shed Long Jr. beat the shift and brought the M’s within a single run in the sixth, it felt different.
When Scott Servais elected not to punt on this game, choosing to use Graveman in the 8th to face the top of the Astros’ lineup rather than waiting for the 9th, you knew that something was different about this squad.
All that brings us to the best single-inning rally I can remember since we dunked all over San Diego in 2016. It was a doozy of an inning. But my favorite moment (okay, my favorite moment non-grand slam edition) was Jarred Kelenic’s seven-pitch walk.
Jarred has seen massive growing pains thus far in the big leagues. I’m not worried about him, because all the people I trust who know baseball far better than I do aren’t worried...but if you look solely at the numbers, it’s easy to be worried. It’s easy to imagine that this budding superstar, who’s never struggled on the baseball diamond in his entire life, could be pressing, trying to do too much.
Instead, Jarred took the pitches that weren’t in the zone, swung at the pitches that were (minus the one he couldn’t do anything with), and worked a remarkably professional walk.
Scott Servais has created an environment where players can be themselves, where they’re going to fight for every single win until that final strike is recorded. I have no clue how much credit to give him — it’s the players who are actually doing the winning — but as staff writer Zach Gottschalk put it earlier, “Every day, I wake up and think ‘Nah, they’re not good.’ And then they win.”
When that happens repeatedly, some credit has to go to the skipper.
JP Crawford on field on what we saw tonight,— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 27, 2021
"A good team win. They had us in the first half and we never gave up and that's what I love about this team. We are going to give it until the final out. No one is giving in for nothing."
A very raspy-voiced Servais got a little emotional tonight talking about the team and it's willingness to compete and play for something bigger than themselves.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 27, 2021
Scott Servais — he of the second-most wins in franchise history, one of two managers to have spent more than four seasons at the helm — has pulled the right levers thus far. He’s got 26 big leaguers believing in themselves, he’s got a bullpen firing on all cylinders, he’s got the stadium rocking and the city abuzz. He’s finishing games with three catchers in the lineup and with optimal reliever usage.
I saw a few people making comparisons on Twitter last night to the 1995 team. That season-long comeback culminated, as many of you know, with a skinny, unheralded second baseman bringing in four runners to the plate, as Rick Rizzs shouted to the heavens, “EVERYBODY SCORES!”
Last night, the game-long comeback culminated with a skinny, unheralded second baseman bringing in four runners to the plate, as Rick Rizzs shouted to the heavens, “EVERYBODY SCORES!”
I sure don’t know how long this team can keep things going. I don’t know which guys they need to acquire at the deadline to have a real shot at contending. What I do know is that there’s a game at T-Mobile Park tonight, and I’m not sure I can ever really count out this team. So I’ll be there, just hoping that Rick has a chance to shout “EVERYBODY SCORES” one more time.