Mariners manager Scott Servais opened his postgame news conference Wednesday by citing the world’s new favorite coach — Ted Lasso.
“We have a lot of goldfish. Guys with very short memories,” said Servais, referencing a popular theme on the Apple TV sitcom. “That’s what came into my mind today, certainly when we got after it in the first inning, you never would have known we were in a tough game last night and weren’t able to get it done.”
It would have been understandable if there were some carry over from the extra-innings loss to the Astros one evening earlier. The Mariners blew a 4-2 ninth-inning lead in a game that would have placed them within two games of the Red Sox in the wild-card race had they pulled out the win.
In a year that has delivered so many pixie-dust moments, this one was crushing. But it didn’t affect their performance one day later. Not. One. Bit.
There’s a resolve about this Mariners squad that you don’t see all that often. Just about every metric suggests that they should have tailed off weeks, if not months ago, but they aren’t budging. Wednesday’s 8-5, come-from-behind victory over the Astros gave them a 4-2 record on this road trip and keeps them lingering in the wild-card chase just three games behind Boston.
They also avoided another sweep, something that hasn’t happened since May 23 when they lost three straight to the Padres.
“The will to win that this team has is so unique, and I’ve been on a lot of teams, coached a lot, played on a lot, don’t know that I’ve ever been on a team that is so driven to win,” Servais said. “I don’t know how we do it sometimes, but we find a way.”
Here’s how it went Wednesday. After scoring two runs in the first inning, the M’s fell behind 4-2 in the fifth. Two innings later, rookie Jarred Kelenic doubled home Ty France and Abraham Toro to tie the score at 4-4. Two innings after that, Mariners first baseman Jose Marmolejos singled in Kelenic and Dylan Moore to break the tie, then J.P. Crawford socked a two-run home run that scored Marmolejos, then Paul Sewald closed out the ninth to seal the Mariners’ win.
Three days earlier, Servais essentially said that if you can’t enjoy the way the Mariners (76-64) are playing there must be something wrong with you. This was after he countered the common “run differential” refrain (the Mariners have allowed 53 more runs than they’ve scored) by saying they have a “fun differential” of +90 (this has made it onto baseballreference.com).
But can you really argue with that? The M’s have been MLB’s most stubborn team — regularly defying projections and computer formulas and general punditry. We’re more than a week into September and every series matters. Every game matters. Who saw this coming?
Assuming the Mariners take at least two out of three in their upcoming home series with the Diamondbacks — who are tied with Baltimore for the worst record in baseball — the following three games vs. Boston will be the biggest series Seattle has seen in years. Usually a series with the Red Sox means T-Mobile Park is overrun with Beantown fans, but given the stakes, Mariners die-hards may very well drown out the Sox faithful.
The Seahawks open their season in four days, and rest assured this city is psyched about it. But is it that far-fetched to think that, if the Mariners momentarily take the lead in the wild-card race, this will be a baseball town through the end of September … or longer?
Don’t tell fangraphs or ESPN I asked that question. They’re still giving the Mariners a mere 6.5 percent chance of making the postseason. They look at a team like the Blue Jays, which is just a half-game ahead of the M’s, and give them a 36.3 percent chance. But folks around here know better. They’ve been watching this team fight all year and, truth be told, it’s been pretty convincing.
Toward the end of Servais’ postgame news conference Wednesday, a reporter asked whether he was glad that he wouldn’t have to see the Astros any more this season. Responded Servais, “You never know what’s going to happen in 2021.”
Hey, like Ted Lasso, the man believes.