The first question from Scott Servais’ pregame chat with reporters on Sunday was posed by the ever-upbeat Mariners manager who personifies the term “Servais With A Smile.”
“How are we doing today, gang? Everybody OK?”
That nobody in the skipper’s office volunteered a detailed account to the contrary was Servais’ cue to make a point.
“The sun came up today,” he said.
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The sun not only came up over Safeco Field, it stayed out, giving fans a delightful baseball atmosphere during an afternoon that offered them everything but a competitive baseball game.
Starting pitcher Chris Heston retired the first White Sox batter he faced on an infield grounder. By the time he returned to the dugout, the Sox were up 5-0, more than enough offense necessary for an 8-1 blowout that mirrored the 16-1 pummeling they gave the Mariners on Saturday night.
A few of the early hits off Heston could be called cheap, and the Mariners were not as flummoxed by Chicago starter Derek Holland as the score seemed to indicate. Jean Segura led off the bottom of the first with a single, as did Kyle Seager in the second and Tuffy Gosewisch in the third.
None advanced to second base.
Because inside-baseball analytics tend to be complex, I’m reluctant to share my sophisticated inside-baseball knowledge. But what the heck, here goes: When the visiting team scores 24 runs in two games, and the home team responds with two runs in two games, it fulfills any definition of a really crummy weekend.
“The guys are frustrated and disappointed,” said Servais. “The frustration level is not being in the game. We need starting pitching to keep us in the game, and it didn’t happen the last two games.”
So where do the last-place Mariners, free-falling in the AL West, go from here? To Washington, where they’ll begin an eight-game, three-city road trip against the powerhouse Nationals before traveling to Boston and Colorado.
A proponent of accentuating the positive, Servais is disinclined to panic. Instead, he considers all that remains bright and beautiful.
▪ The schedule called for the Mariners to take Monday off, which — excuse the expression — is precisely what the doctor might have ordered. It’s a chance to regroup, refocus, and expunge every memory of the White Sox series.
▪ When they take on the Nationals on Tuesday, Robinson Cano, absent since suffering a right quad strain on May 13, will play second base and bat third.
“We’ve seen the impact Robbie has had on our offense,” said Servais. “It allows other guys to be in the right spots. Putting the big guy back in the three hole will certainly help.”
▪ The belief that losing three of four home games to the White Sox doesn’t represent the end of the world as we know it.
“We’ll be OK,” Servais said. “I know it’s hard for the guys in the clubhouse to see that, but we’ll eventually get healthy. We’ve got to continue to fight and claw during very adverse times. We knew it was coming, now we’ve got to deal with it.
“It’s a tough stretch. I talk about it often: Adversity does not build character, it reveals character. I think we’ll find out a lot about our guys.”
▪ That beautiful Sunday morning sunrise. It can’t be overrated.