The Seattle Mariners needed to try something different after suffering eight losses in 11 games as they sought their first playoff berth since 2001.
Pitcher Robbie Ray suggested they unplug the out-of-town scoreboard at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Manager Scott Servais took a different approach. He canceled all pre-game workouts and told his players to show up later than usual before Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers.
The “show and go” method worked as the Mariners won 3-1. The teams will wrap up their three-game series on Thursday night.
“It’s kind of like what you did when you were in Little League,” Servais said. “You didn’t show up five hours before the game and worried about the opponent and all this stuff. You just showed up, made sure your uniform was clean, maybe had something to eat just in case you needed it, and then you went out and played a game.”
Combined with Baltimore’s loss to Boston on Wednesday, the Mariners (84-70) reduced their magic number for ending the longest postseason drought in North America’s four major professional sports to three. Seattle leads Baltimore by 4 1/2 games in the race for the American League’s third and final playoff berth.
Mariners rookie George Kirby allowed one run on five hits in six innings, and three relievers each pitched a perfect inning to close out Wednesday’s victory.
Ray suggested the Mariners just needed to focus on themselves.
“We’ve just got to stop looking at the (out-of-town) scoreboard,” he said. “If it was my choice, we’d turn that thing off. Because we need to play our brand of baseball. …
“We need to stop worrying about what other people in the league are doing, what Baltimore’s doing, what Tampa (Bay) is doing, what Toronto is doing. We need to play Mariners baseball. That should be our main focus every day. It doesn’t matter if Baltimore loses, it doesn’t matter if Tampa loses or wins.”
Ray, 30, acknowledged that can be difficult with a young roster that hasn’t been in this position before.
“We can’t control what other teams do,” he said. “We need to just control what we can. We can control our game, our at-bats, our pitches, everything in our game. … We can’t focus on the outside noise and what everybody else is doing around us.”
Despite a quality start from Martin Perez, the Rangers (66-88) lost for the fourth time in their past five games. Rookie Josh Jung, who homered twice and had five RBIs in a 5-0 victory in the series opener on Tuesday, drove in Texas’ lone run with a single in the first inning.
“Runs were a premium,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “Martín threw the ball well, Kirby threw the ball well; he executed his game plan as well. So it was just about who could win the moment.”
The Rangers are scheduled to send right-hander Jon Gray (7-7, 3.64 ERA) to the mound in the rubber game of the series on Thursday to face Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.05).
Gonzales is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA against the Rangers this season, and Gray is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA vs. the Mariners. Lifetime, Gonzales is 9-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 21 starts against Texas, and Gray is 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA in four starts against Seattle.