We can now lower the Mariners panic level from DEFCON 1. Perhaps it is too soon to write off the season after all. If hope is the thing with feathers, as poet Emily Dickinson said, then the Mariners haven’t been totally plucked bald after 10 games.
The process of restoring a measure of positivity to what had been a demoralizing start to the 2017 season is what the Mariners accomplished on their opening homestand, and that’s no small thing. They had to keep believing in themselves, and give their fans a reason to not stop believing, an existential crisis before the season was two weeks old.
Prior to the Texas series – right after Houston beat them two out of three to run the Mariners’ record to 2-8 – manager Scott Servais held a series of clubhouse meetings to remind them that all their goals were still attainable. He distributed printed sheets that listed all the dismal stretches of last year’s playoff teams and the last five teams to make it to the World Series, showcasing their 1-9s, 2-8s and 3-7s. Misery loves company, and the miserable sometimes need to be reminded there’s a light ahead.
“It happens,’’ Servais said. “We were the only team to do it kind of out of the chute. But we understand that we have talent, and if you continue to stick together, and believe in each other, things will work out and they’ll turn. That’s what baseball does. It will turn around, but you’ve got to keep grinding, because people don’t feel sorry for you. We talked about that, and our guys certainly responded.”
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That’s not to say that the Mariners, still sitting two games under .500 (7-9) following Wednesday’s 10-5 win over the Marlins at Safeco Field, can start printing out playoff tickets (in fact, they might have to search awhile to find that printing press after 15 years). But they have staved off, at least for the time being, the doom and gloom that had enveloped the team.
“It’s always a good feeling when you win a couple of series,’’ said outfielder Jarrod Dyson. “The guys are starting to lighten up around here, loosen up a little bit. Everybody wanted to get off to a great start; it just didn’t happen for everybody. But we got our minds right and hung in there.”
One of the beauties of the six-month baseball season is that truths reveal themselves slowly, often after deceiving you completely. The red herrings and false narratives eventually get sorted out, and then you see where you stand.
Here are a few things we think we know, however. Felix Hernandez likely won’t be the dominant starter the M’s used to savor, but they conveniently have James Paxton ready to slide into that role. The new model King, meanwhile, is plenty good enough to be an…