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Seattle Mariners

Scott Servais reflects on becoming only second Mariners manager to reach 500 wins

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais congratulates pitcher James Paxton after a completing seven innings of work against the Houston Astros on Monday, July 30, 2018, at Safeco Field in Seattle.  (Seattle Times)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

ARLINGTON, Texas – The milestone had meaning even when he tried to hide it at first and credit others for what he’d achieved.

With his hair still wet from a Gatorade bucket being dumped on him in celebration, the emotions eventually got the best of Mariners manager Scott Servais as much as he tried to fight them.

With the Mariners’ 6-2 win over the Rangers on Friday night, Servais reached 500 career wins as a manager.

“It’s hard to do, first of all, and not get fired in this game,” he said. “It happens, but it’s a credit to our players. I said that to them after they dumped the Gatorade … on me tonight. This means a lot, but the game is about the players. It’ll always be about the players and the fact that they grind through it. So much goes into a major league season.”

In seven seasons with the Mariners, including the 60-game 2020 season, Servais has amassed a 500-486 record. Only Lou Piniella has managed more seasons (10) and games (840-711).

Since Piniella left the organization after the 2002 season, the Mariners hired six managers and used two interim managers before Servais was hired by close friend and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto after he was hired as general manager before the 2016 season.

Servais, who worked in player development and scouting, had no managing experience before being hired by Dipoto. He is the first Mariners manager to receive a contract extension – one in 2018 and one last season – since Piniella.

“You know Manny Acta has been here with me for all 500 and Jerry Dipoto, thank you,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “You get the opportunity to do this, I love my job. I really do. We’ve got a lot of big games ahead of us. I’m looking forward to a little bit more celebrations here once we get into October.”

Servais’ first win as the Mariners manager also came against the Rangers, a team he worked for as a director of player development from 2004 to 2010, at the old Globe Life Park across the street from the current, modern palace.

After his team started the season with a pair of losses, the Mariners rolled to a decisive 10-2 win, powered by a six-run inning that featured homers from Robinson Cano and Seth Smith off Tom Wilhelmsen. What made Servais’ first win a little more memorable was the confrontation that ensued after Wilhelmsen hit Chris Iannetta during the inning after four of the six runs had been scored.

Iannetta and the Mariners felt it was a purpose pitch as did umpire Marvin Hudson, who ejected Wilhelmsen immediately. When then-Rangers manager Jeff Banister came out to protest the ejection, Servais let his feelings be known from the dugout. The two manager jawed at each other with an altercation looming.

Servais chuckled about the memory of that game and what the job is like now.

“There’s been a lot of stuff in between,” he said. “If you look at where our organization has come, from the team we inherited, to trading off a lot of those guys, the rebuild, starting over with young players and see where we’re at today, it’s a credit to everybody that has been involved in this organization, but no more than Jerry and what Justin [Hollander] do on an everyday basis and our ownership group. They gave me a chance. Thank you, again.”

Servais turned the conversation to the future.

“The job’s not done,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of fun baseball ahead of us, and I’m looking forward to that.”