Midway through Sunday’s postgame news conference, a reporter asked Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais if the heat had anything to do with starting pitcher Nick Margevicius throwing awkwardly before being pulled in the fifth inning.
Servais said no, but he appreciated the query.
“That is an unbelievable question,” he said. “I took a heat question in Seattle, Washington, on April 18th. That is phenomenal.”
And when you think about it, the beautiful weather the Puget Sound region has enjoyed over the past few days is a lot like the Mariners’ 10-6 start to the season.
1. It’s surprising. This is a team most in the media picked to win fewer than 80 games, and is one that lost starting pitcher James Paxton for the season last week, all while playing without reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis.
2. It’s unlikely to last long. There was a reason for the mass pessimism among pundits before opening day, as the young M’s roster is still short on proven big-league talent.
3. It’s been enjoyable as hell. Who cares if a return to reality is on the horizon? Fans might as well revel in this success.
Sunday’s 7-2 win over the Astros marked the Mariners’ third consecutive series win and seventh victory in nine games. They kept Houston to one hit, which would have been an out had left fielder José Marmolejos not lost the ball in the sun.
They got a double, a triple and three runs batted in from the sizzling Mitch Haniger. They got a home run and another three RBI from the equally scorching Ty France. They used six pitchers to shut down what has been the AL West’s primary power over the past several seasons, and headed into a two-game series with the Dodgers on Monday as one of baseball’s hottest teams.
“We’re a young, scrappy group,” France said on ROOT Sports after the game. “We’re not going to come out and homer teams to death. We’re going to put together walks, a couple of base hits and then the big hit.”
Except that, over the past 10 games, the Mariners have homered 14 times. The power surge might be seen as an outlier once the season is over, but recently the M’s have been going yard in all the yards they’ve played.
Perhaps more significantly, their pitching has been stellar – particularly out of the bullpen. Going into the Dodger series, Seattle had allowed two runs or fewer in four of its past five games – and none of those runs came off relievers.
Again, every team, no matter how putrid, has stretches of achievement. But what the Mariners are doing out of the pen has their skipper stoked about the future.
“I feel as good about our bullpen as I have in a long, long time. Probably since the Eddie Diaz-Alex Colomé days. And this bullpen is a little bit different in the fact that it may be deeper,” Servais said. “All the guys are getting a chance to pitch, they’re all getting a chance to contribute. And we’re focusing on throwing their best pitches in the right spots. And as long as they keep throwing strikes, good things are going to happen. ”
What’s been exciting the viewers more than anything, though, are the triple-your-heart-rate rallies. Sunday was more of an onslaught than a comeback (although the Mariners did trail 2-1 at one point), but the recent recoveries have been noteworthy.
There was the three-run ninth inning to beat the Twins 8-6 on April 11. There were the four runs they scored in the fifth and sixth innings to come back and beat Baltimore 4-2 last Thursday. There was the walkoff single from France that edged them by the Astros a day later – and that’s in addition to road wins vs. Minnesota and Baltimore in which Seattle scored in the final inning to nab a one-run victory.
The end result is the M’s sitting atop the division with (basically) 1/10th of the season in the books.
Of course, the easy (and justifiable) reply for naysayers is to point to the first 15 games of the 2019 season, when the Mariners started 13-2. They ended up going 68-94 and finished last in the AL West. This year’s team is more talented, but a disappointing record come late September wouldn’t surprise many.
But in the meantime – enjoy. The Mariners are rolling.You probably know better than to get too excited, but at the same time … you just never know.
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