Diaz needs just one more save to tie Kaz Sasaki's club record of 29 saves before the All-Star break.

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BALTIMORE — It’s a friendly wager that manager Scott Servais wants to lose no matter how ridiculous it will make him and his hair look.

On Monday night, Servais moved another increment closer to defeat when Edwin Diaz notched his league-leading 28th save of the season. It was his first save since June 16.

The Mariners’ young fire-balling closer looked dominant while striking out Trey Mancini, getting Jonathan Schoop to ground out weakly to second and striking out Tim Beckham.

“I was feeling great,” Diaz said. “I thought I pitched pretty good. I was throwing strikes in the bullpen. And I was able to establish my slider and finish them with my fastball.”

Part of the reason Diaz felt so sharp was his one inning of work he got in Boston on Saturday. After not appearing in a game for seven days, Diaz got to pitch the ninth inning of Mike Leake’s gem, where he had thrown eight shutout innings against the Red Sox. Diaz gave up two runs on three hits in the appearance.

“It was good to get the ball the other day,” he said. “This stretch was the most I’ve gone without pitching. I’d like to pitch every day. Maybe two or three days off is okay. But six or seven is too much.”

Servais still laments not letting Leake have a chance at the shutout.

“A lot of people didn’t understand and were like, ‘why would you do that?'” Servais said. “But you are trying to take care of the entire team. It was a tough decision that night not to let Mike complete that ballgame because he had pitched a great game. Ultimately, it was best for all 25 guys.  We get into the game last night and Diaz was very sharp and had the good slider. It was nice to see.”

Diaz is now one save away from tying Kaz Sasaki’s team record of 29 saves before the All-Star break. The Mariners are 36-0 when Diaz enters the game with a lead, including 19-0 with a one-run lead. He’s 17 for 19 in one-run saves with 0.93 ERA situations. The undefeated record means the three occasions where Diaz has had a hiccup and lost a lead late and blown a save, his teammates bailed him out and won the game. Diaz also leads all American League relievers with 66 total strikeouts.

And that wager?

Well, it’s been written about before. Back in April, Servais was teasing Diaz about the intricate designs shaved into the side of his head. It was then that Servais told Diaz that if reached 50 saves in the season, he’d get the same exact hair cut. Diaz is on pace for 57 saves.

“I’m looking forward to the day,” Servais said. “Others in my family are more concerned. It’s part of the deal. It was all in fun. I continue to look forward to it. He’s having a good season and really been key for us.”

The manager and the closer even have a special postgame handshake after saves to honor the bet. It is culminated with taking their first two fingers and mimicking a line being shaved in the side of their heads.

“He is the one who came up with that,” Diaz said.

If he prevails in the bet, Diaz has already planned out the payoff.

“I want him to get the exact same as me,” he said. “I will get the barber to come into the clubhouse and sit him in front everybody so they can see it. It will be great.”

Also …

Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup about two hours before first pitch because of lower back tightness. It was the first game he missed since May 23. Since then he’d played in 31 straight games as the Mariners’ designated hitter. In those 31 games, he was hitting .327 (37 for 113) with a .412 on-base percentage, .726 slugging percentage, four doubles, a triple, 13 homers and 40 RBIs.