During the Mariners’ stretch run of an AL playoff chase, manager Scott Servais won’t undervalue proven experience.
And that is why he has turned to reliever Evan Scribner in key spots in September – even after the 31-year-old had not pitched in the major leagues for nearly a year with a latissimus dorsi (“lat”) issue.
Scribner has given Servais exactly what he’s needed with five scoreless appearances. The right-hander sent down Houston in order in the eighth inning Saturday night in Seattle’s 2-1 loss at Safeco Field.
“He has been really sharp when we’ve put him in there,” Servais said. “We’ve been careful not overuse him, to give him some days off in between (appearances).”
Including the Mariners, Scribner has pitched with three major-league teams.
Unfortunately he has experienced lat issues with each of them.
The first time he tore that muscle just below his pitching shoulder was in 2011 with the Padres.
He went to Oakland a year later, and spent the next four seasons with the Athletics.
Scribner got off to a quick start in 2015, posting a 2.01 earned-run average over his first 27 games. But he finished poorly, giving up 14 home runs, most by any reliever in the majors.
And early last September, he walked off the mound grabbing his shoulder. He tore the same lat muscle, ending his season.
Scribner rehabbed all offseason, and was traded to the M’s in December for pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill.
On the first day of spring training with Seattle, he re-aggravated the injury, and was placed on the disabled list.
Eventually he was transferred to the 60-day DL, and spent the next four months in Arizona.
“I don’t know if it didn’t heal right – it just went right away again,” Scribner said. “We had to be extra careful.
“It was hard. There were … days I’d feel like I didn’t want to push it, and other days when I felt amazing and I wanted to do more than they wanted me to.”
Scribner returned in August to pitch with four minor-league teams within the organization as part of his rehabilitation.
His last stop was with Triple-A Tacoma where he posted a 3.86 ERA in four games (4.2 innings pitches) from Aug, 19-30.
Now that he is back with the big club, he said he no longer in pain, and can pitch free and easy.
“For me, control is the most important thing – and I lose it when I don’t feel well,” Scribner said. “Mentally and physically, I feel I can hit my spots at any time now.”
CANO IN MINOR SLUMP
Heading into the series finale Sunday against the Astros, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was mired in a 1-for-17 slump over his past four games – and had gone hitless in both games of the homestand.
“That is kind of what Robbie does. He has the ability to hit a lot of pitches all over the strike zone, and sometimes out of it,” Servais said. “He hits them hard -sometimes that is good, and sometimes that can be a detriment.”
“He wants to help out, and wants to get the big hit and drive in the big run. It is human nature. (He) just needs to slow down a little bit, and be who he is.”
O’MALLEY GETS RARE START
Utility infielder Shawn O’Malley has not gotten much action in September with just 10 at-bats.
But he got his first start Sunday since Sept. 8 at shortstop in place of Ketel Marte.
“I don’t have those thoughts in my head, ‘Oh, it’s been a while, what do I do?’ For me, I can use that as excuse to bring me down, or I can be ready,” O’Malley said. “They expect me to go out there and do good things, and I expect that as well.”
The only team still playing is Single-A Clinton, which went down 2-1 in its best-of-five series Saturday against Great Lakes.
The LumberKings were held to three hits in a 4-0 loss Saturday. Second baseman Chris Mariscal, catcher James Alfonso and designated hitter Conner Hale accounted for the hits.
Jamie Moyer won his career-best 18th game of the season on this date back in 2001, and the Mariners clinched their third AL West title with a 5-0 victory over the Angels.
It was the team’s 106th victory that season.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach got his first major-league hit Tuesday with a single to right field against the Angels. That baseball was retrieved, and give back to the burly rookie. What will he do with it? “I’ll probably keep it at my house, then give it to my parents for Christmas or something,” he said. … Heading into Sunday, Seattle relievers had combined for 493 strikeouts, which is third-most in team history. The record is 535, set in 2013. …
The Mariners begin another home three-game series Monday by hosting another AL playoff hopeful – Toronto. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (6-10, 4.28 ERA) will start for the Mariners. Right-hander Marco Estrada (8-9, 3.78) counters for the Blue Jays.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM.