The Mariners believe the solution to their season-long baserunning blues is to double down and go full throttle.
"We’ve got to be aggressive," manager Scott Servais insisted after Tuesday’s 7-6 victory at Oakland. "All of our guys. When you have a chance to make a play, go for it. If they respond, if they make a play and throw you out, then so be it."
The approach worked Tuesday when Ben Gamel charged home from third base in the eighth inning on Danny Valencia’s one-out fly ball to short center field.
The throw from Oakland’s Rajai Davis made for a close play at the plate, but Gamel eluded around the tag by catcher Dustin Garneau and scored the tying run.
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The Mariners subsequently won the game in the 10th inning on Leonys Martin’s two-out homer. That sent them into Wednesday’s series finale tied with with Tampa Bay and Kansas City for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
The aggressive approach hasn’t worked well for most of the season because of too many poor baserunning decisions. When Servais speaks of staying aggressive, he means aggressive and smart.
Jarrod Dyson is all that is keeping them ahead of the New York Mets (minus-19.7) for absolute bottom. Dyson leads the league and ranks second in the majors at plus-7.0 runs. Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton is plus-7.8 runs.
Gamel is the Mariners’ second-best baserunner at plus-2.3.
The baserunning problems recently prompted Servais to add a new element to the Mariners’ daily pre-game hitting meetings, a video-review session that he calls "the good, the bad and the ugly."
The latter two segments often involve baserunning.
"You can only go out and practice baserunning so much," Servais said. "I think this helps a little bit in keeping guys in tune to it. Guys are noticing it on the bench. Guys are making comments."
Perhaps peer pressure can eliminate mistakes.
"We’re going to stay aggressive," Servais vowed. "That’s what we have to do."
***The Mariners (58-56) go for a two-game sweep and look to climb three games above .500 for the first time this season when their series against the Athletics concludes at 12:37 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum.
***Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (5-7 with a 5.35 ERA) will face Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton (5-8, 5.48). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***While Gallardo has struggled for much of the season, he is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA (four earned runs in 17 innings) in three previous starts against the Athletics. He was 0-5 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts against Oakland prior to this season.
***Gallardo is 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA (seven runs in 15 2/3 innings) in three starts since rejoining the rotation after a five-week demotion to duty as the long reliever.
***The Mariners’ 15-9 record since the All-Star break is the best in the league.
***Edwin Diaz leads the majors with 11 saves since the All-Star break. No other reliever in either league has more than eight.
***The Mariners have won eight straight one-run decisions.
***Cotton beat the Mariners on April 22 at the Coliseum when he gave up just two runs in six innings in a 4-3 victory. He has faced them only one other time — last season, when he gave up four runs over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision.
***Nelson Cruz had one RBI in Tuesday’s victory, which pushed his league-leading total to 85.
***Gallardo should be particularly pleased by the trade that brought first baseman Yonder Alonso to the Mariners from Oakland for outfielder Boog Powell. Alonso was 10-for-32 (.313) in his career against Alonso.
***The only current Oakland players with more than nine career at-bats against Gallardo are Jed Lowrie (3-for-16) and Marcus Semien (5-for-16).
***Robinson Cano is 3-for-6 with two homers in his career against Cotton.
It was seven years ago Wednesday — Aug. 9, 2010 — that the Mariners cleaned house by firing manager Don Wakamatsu, bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Rick Adair and performance coach Steve Hecht.
The Mariners were 42-70 at the time.
Triple-A Tacoma manager Daren Brown replaced Wakamatsu on an interim basis. Roger Hansen stepped in as the bench coach, and Carl Willis as the pitching coach.
The Mariners were 19-31 over the remainder of the season.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners