ANAHEIM, Calif .– At the start of the final week of the regular season, the Seattle Mariners still have a shot at making the playoffs, but in their minds, the playoffs have already started.
The Mariners are returning from a 10-game road trip to host a three-game series with Oakland, starting Monday night, before closing their schedule against the Los Angeles Angels Friday through Sunday at T-Mobile Park.
The Mariners’ performance in their last six games will go a long way in determining whether they supplant contenders in the AHL East, Toronto, Boston and New York for the final wild card spot. They will enter the final week two games after this playoff spot.
Mariners manager Scott Servais believes the key to the club’s success in the coming week will be keeping it simple, and he hopes that this mindset will deliver the same results as for the United States in the Ryder Cup, which Servais followed with interest.
âI played this once a long time ago, and it is the most difficult course I have ever played,â Servais said of Whistling Straits, where the 43rd Biennial Golf Competition was held this weekend. âMichael Jordan was interviewed there yesterday and talked about how big moments shouldn’t change who these guys are or what they do. The same goes for our sport.
With his relief pen heavily taxed on the road trip, Servais appreciates the veteran leadership of his staff and believes it will help young pitchers deal with the pressure on the team’s last homestand.
âWe have a lot of depth,â said Servais. âPaul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider have been great every time we’ve pitched them, especially in high leverage situations, but we have to be smart. We have games left to play, not many, and they are all very important.
âThe experience that Sean Doolittle and Joe Smith brought has helped us a lot,â added Servais. âThe conversations they have had with some of our young players are invaluable. You can talk to them as a coach or a manager, but the other players are the ones they will listen to the most. And these two have pennants and playoff racing experience and even, in the case of Doolittle, a World Series, so it’s great to have these guys around. However, I also have a ton of confidence in our young guys. ”
The Mariners’ last playoff appearance was 20 years ago when they won an American League record in 116 games under Lou Piniella, before losing to the Yankees in the ALCS.
âOur young guys have learned a lot during the season on how to face adversity and take care of your body,â said Servais. “We were traveling to a city with a hot climate, and I emphasized how important it is to stay hydrated.”
Playing their last six games in front of home fans should energize the Mariners – except they have struggled recently at T-Mobile Park, losing nine of their last 15 games there.
âI hope our fan base is excited about what we’ve been able to do,â Servais said. âWe are eagerly awaiting electricity in our park. Our guys can’t wait for it to be back home.