Mariners Manager Scott Servais Has Tough Day in Minnesota

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 01: Manager Scott Servais
ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 01: Manager Scott Servais /

The Mariners dropped their first game in Minnesota today, losing 4-2 against the Twins. The Mariners had plenty of opportunities to win, but failed to capitalize on any of them.

While most of the blame lies on the offense for this loss, Mariners Manager Scott Servais had a few, lets call them questionable decisions. While these decisions probably didn’t cost them the game, they nonetheless didn’t put Seattle in the best position to win.

2 particular decisions come to mind, but first, let me get a few things out-of-the-way early. First, don’t get used to these type of pieces. I am consistently second guessing managerial decisions like most of you do, but if I wrote a piece about every single one of them that came into my mind, you would hate me.

Second, this isn’t meant as a rip job on Servais. I genuinely like the guy, and think he has been a solid average manager in his first 2 seasons. So if you are going to try to spin this as a negative piece, take that stuff elsewhere.

So let’s begin with the most obvious decision. James Paxton enters the bottom of the 6th inning, having thrown over 90 pitches in 40 degree weather, in just his second start of 2018. Joe Mauer leads off the sixth with a single, and up strides Miguel Sano, for the third time in the ball game.

On Paxton’s 98th pitch, Sano takes a hanger into the left field bleachers, and just like that, we have a tie ball game. This was a brutal decision by Servais.

Mariners RHP Dan Altavilla was ready to go. Paxton had to labor through 5 innings. He was facing the order for the 3rd time. He didn’t have dominate stuff. Yet, Servais leaves him in to pitch, despite the obvious warning signs. It was just a foreseeable situation and one that could have been prevented.

There was no reason to not use your bullpen today. You just had an off day on Monday, and you have another off day on Friday. The bullpen is in really good shape. But Servais chose to believe that Paxton nearing pitch 100 on a 40 degree day was better than Altavilla facing Sano. I just don’t understand it.

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The second, and perhaps less noticeable decision was the pinch-hitting of David Frietas in the Top of the 8th. Pinch hitting for Frietas is fine, it was the choice of Mike Marjama that was questionable.

With cross-fire pitcher Addison Reed on the bump, Servais selected his backup catcher to take the AB in a crucial spot. What makes this a questionable decision? There are several factions of this choice that I take question of.

The first and most obvious, is Marjama really a better hitter than Frietas? For the sake of argument, lets say he is. Second, with a lefty bat in Andrew Romine on the bench, why go to the righty? I mean, it’s not like you need to save Romine for the late innings. You still have your 4th outfielder, Guillermo Heredia, and another utility man, Taylor Motter, to use if the game went into extra innings. So again, why no Romine?

Perhaps, you are saying, Servais thought he needed to play for the home run, and Romine doesn’t have much pop. You could be right, so then, why not Taylor Motter? Motter is just as likely to get on as Marjama, and has more pop to boot.

Finally, consider what happens if Marjama does get on. No you have, at best, average speed on the bases, and no ability to pinch run for him. If you use Motter or Romine and they get on, you have good speed on the bases, and you can just put Marjama in for defense in the top of the 9th.

As stated above, this is not a rip piece on Servais. But these are the type of thoughts that go through my head in these situations. It certainly seems, at least by my eyes, that Scott Servais made a few questionable decisions in Thursday’s game.

Next: Can the Mariners Get Off to a Fast Start in 2018?

Did they cost the Mariners a win? Probably not. Surely, an offense that left a small village on the bases should shoulder most of the blame. But it is the job of the manager to give his team the best chance to succeed. And, at least on Thursday, it sure looks like Servais failed.