Mariners win, Servais loses: Seattle skipper on the hot seat?
The Mariners are a flaming mess, and Scott Servais is only throwing gas on the fire. Sure, they inexplicably came back from the brink of a demoralizing loss to LA, but not because of any miraculous managing.
Seattle led. This time it was 4-0. The Mariners had cruised through five innings, and seemed to be well in control. Then Scott Servais made a choice that may have cost him his job, had Seattle not turned it around.
Servais pulled Hisashi Iwakuma at 81 pitches. He’d gotten roughed up a bit; surrendering a two-run homer to designated Mariner-slayer Mike Trout. That said, he’s been known to get into trouble easily, and get himself out of it the exact same way. Still though, Servais decided he’d seen enough and went to his bullpen. He called for a right-hander, of which he has five.
Here is where things get weird. He could’ve gone to Jean Machi, who had yet to give up a run in 9 appearances between Tacoma and Seattle. Just the night before, in his 190th career appearance, he went two innings, giving up 0 runs on one hit in the M’s loss.
He could’ve gone Zych, Vincent, or even Diaz, but he didn’t.
Instead, with the game on the line, with a two run lead in a crucial game of a critical series, he went with Emilio Pagan. Nothing against Pagan, but he’d never pitched above AAA, and even at Tacoma this year he has a 3.27 ERA in six appearances.
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I’m just an armchair skipper, but the choice seems fairly obvious. Machi seems much Pagan’s superior. Yet, Servais gets paid to make the calls; for now at least.
He went Pagan.
Now, there’s a lot to be said about Pagan besides the fact that he’d never pitched in a big-league game. Such as the fact that he was Edwin Diaz’s teammate on the Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic team. He got big stage experience there, so he wasn’t exactly making his major league debut.
But he was.
No amount of playing in other scenarios prepares you for your first time playing in a Major League baseball game. It all counts. Everything goes down in the scorebook and the standings. It’s all 100% real. That’s why Servais had no business bringing in Pagan, up 4-2.
Servais has proven himself consistently good at one thing in 2017: setting relievers up for failure.
Now I get that ultimately a pitcher’s bullpen role matters very little. Ultimately, it’s about how they pitch, but Servais can’t expect a player making his debut to work his way out of a situation that heavily favors the opposition. I mean he can hope, but the odds are against that.
All the recaps will talk then of how Pagan then gave up 3 runs, and the game suddenly became 6-4 in favor of the Angels.
If you don’t slam your computer shut there, you’ll hear about how the Mariners somehow scored four two-out runs in the eighth and regained the lead.
You’ll see that Diaz got two huge strikeouts in the ninth, before he gave up a homer to Kole Calhoun and drilled Mike Trout with a fastball.
You’ll see that he found himself on that mound, though. As he faced Albert Pujols, the same one who completed LA’s comeback against Diaz three weeks ago, he reached down and came up with the strikeout.
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That strikeout may have saved Servais’s job.
The winning pitcher for the Mariners was Jean Machi. Servais put him in, and credit to him for that. He just put him in when we trailed, not with a lead to protect. Machi’s scoreless inning kept the Mariners in a place to make that comeback. Yet it still was one they shouldn’t have had to make.
Servais could’ve worked the whole thing differently and still come away with the win. That’s something Mariners fans will not soon let go. A month into an already rough season, Servais’s leash has to be tighter than ever. Simply, more mistakes like Wednesday’s and he will be out of a job sooner rather than later.