Diaz initially asked for a day off after saving the first three games of the series, but changed his mind when Seattle tied the game in the ninth inning and saved his fourth game in four days.
HOUSTON — When Edwin Diaz arrived at Minute Maid Park on Sunday morning, he didn’t think he would be pitching in the series finale versus the Astros.
Having saved three games in three days to start the four-game series, Diaz was supposed to take a day off to rest along with eighth-inning set-up man Alex Colome, who had also gone three consecutive days and had to pitch multiple innings in two of the appearances.
“Alex needs a day,” M’s manager Scott Servais said before the game. “And Eddie, I don’t like going four days in a row to our closer, so hopefully we can stay away from him today as well.”
But when the Mariners took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th on Mitch Haniger’s RBI double, there was only one pitcher warming in the bullpen to pitch the bottom of the inning — the American League leader in saves.
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Diaz entered the game and looked sharp in his fourth appearance in four days, throwing 98-mph fastballs and posting a scoreless inning for his 46th save.
Four games, four wins and four saves for Diaz.
“I tried to do the same thing every night, attack with my fastball and throw my slider down in the zone,” Diaz said. “I thought I would feel tired, but I was feeling good.”
Diaz became the first pitcher in Mariners history to save all four games in a four-game series. He’s has saved 27 straight games. He’s two away from Fernando Rodney’s club record of 48.
Diaz rarely asks for a day off from throwing, but he thought it might be a good idea to take a break with a three-game series against the A’s — Seattle’s competition for the second wild card — starting on Monday.
“I told them I wanted to be off today,” he said.
So Diaz went about his day like he wouldn’t pitch. He stayed in the clubhouse longer than usual, did some stretching and recovery work.
But as he sat in the bullpen and watched his team blow a 2-0 lead and tie the game in the top of the ninth on Ryon Healy’s solo homer, Diaz decided to play catch to see how he felt.
“I played catch earlier in the game, and I was feeling good,” he said.
With only Casey Lawrence and Felix Hernandez left in the bullpen, Diaz made a decision. If the Mariners somehow took a lead in extra innings, the rest day would be scratched and he was going to close it out.
“When we tied the game, I changed my decision and told Brian I can pitch today,” Diaz said. “I told him to call the dugout and tell them I can pitch today.”
It wan’t a phone call that Servais expected, and he trusted his closer’s judgement despite the heavy workload.
“It was a welcome call,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to do that. It’s kind of how Eddie is wired and how this team is wired. We’ve run him hard this year, but he understands what the opportunity to win that ballgame means to our team. It says a lot about him.”
When word of the call began to circulate in the dugout, there was a surge of emotion. Their best was going to be there at the end.
“I got larger goosebumps after hearing that then I did after I hit the homer, to be honest,” Healy said. “The fact he wants to call down and come in that game, he feels the energy out there in the bullpen. And obviously he is a humongous part of this team. For him to pick the phone up and say, ‘Skip, I’m coming in this game.’ I saw him warming up and that’s when my heart kind of started to flutter and that’s when we got the go-ahead run.”
So what will Diaz do on Monday?
“I will have a day off tomorrow,” he said, “for sure.”