As Mariners manager Scott Servais sat down for his pregame video conference with local media for Friday night’s opening game against the Padres, it wasn’t from the familiar media room in T-Mobile Park. No, it was a foul-smelling closet in Petco Park in San Diego where the Mariners were forced to move the series scheduled to be played in Seattle over the weekend due to poor air conditions.
“It smells awful in here,” Servais said to a member of the Mariners’ media relations staff.
“Yeah, it’s bad,” was the reply.
Given what he said about the closet, maybe the smoky air of the Puget Sound — though less smoky than when he was last in the area — would’ve been welcomed.
But in a season where few things are normal, the Mariners’ vagabond existence over the last week is just accepted.
The Mariners came off last week’s five-game road trip to San Francisco and Arizona for all of two days. They split a makeup doubleheader with the A’s on Monday evening at T-Mobile in questionable air conditions. Their game on Tuesday to start a two-game series against the Giants was postponed for a day as the series was moved to San Francisco and played Wednesday and Thursday. It was about an hour before Thursday afternoon’s finale at Oracle Park that the Mariners announced their three-game series with the Padres would also be moved. The final homestand of the season that included a two-game road trip had now grown into five games.
Hopefully they packed extra underwear.
“We are over in lovely San Diego,” Servais said. “We’re the Harlem Globetrotters. We travel around the globe and play whenever they need us. So that’s what we got today. The weather’s perfect over here. It seems like we were just here. It’s been a wild ride we’ve been on, but guys are at the ballpark and they’re getting a pregame in. We’ll be getting ready to roll.”
The comparison isn’t without merit since the Globetrotters basically played all road games — hence their nickname. But the Globetrotters also rarely lost, and the Mariners aren’t exactly synonymous with winning.
Per the Globetrotters website: “In fact, the Globetrotters have lost 345 games over the course of nine decades. However, with 27,000 wins, the Globetrotters do own the best winning percentage (.987) in the history of professional sports.”
The Mariners are 22-29 after losing 6-1 to the the Padres on Friday, which has already exceeded most expectations.
To be fair, the Mariners aren’t exactly playing opponents akin to the Washington Generals — the Globetrotters’ eternal patsy — in terms of talent or willingness to roll over and lose for entertainment purposes.
The nine remaining games on the Mariners schedule are against the Padres, Astros and A’s — all teams that are expected to make the playoffs.
The embittered fan might say the Mariners are more Generals than Globetrotters.
Of their 30 home games on their schedule this season, the Mariners will have six of them — two in San Francisco, three in San Diego and one in Oakland — away from T-Mobile Park.
What does Servais hope to see in the final games of the season?
Obviously, the Mariners have fading hopes of catching and passing the Astros, who are three games up on Seattle for second place in the American League West. If you factor in the tiebreaker, Houston is actually four games up with nine to play. The three-game series starting Monday at T-Mobile Park — for now — could be pivotal if the Mariners play well over the weekend. However, Seattle is 2-24 against the Astros over the past two seasons.
“We were on such a good run for about a month long of baseball,” Servais said. “We were playing really clean games, defense was really good, pitching was staying ahead and keeping the count in our favor and a lot of quality at-bats. I know this week’s been a little crazy with the travel, the schedule and maybe we haven’t played as well.”
The Mariners have lost seven of their past 10 games after getting within a game and a half of the Astros. But Servais was concerned about how the games were being played as much as the outcome.
“That’s what I really would like to get back to, continuing to get better with this club,” Servais said. “We are still going to give these guys a ton of opportunities and chances and let them grow. But getting back to doing those simple things — and I know it sounds simple, but they are really hard to do and we were doing it well for so long — of just playing clean games, playing good defense, having good at-bats, and not getting so caught up maybe in results, just staying with a really good process. And that’s what we need to do here over the last 10 games.”