The Seattle Mariners might be in last place in the American League West and in the midst of a rebuilding project, but they’re unofficially in first place in the major leagues in attendance.
When the Mariners returned this week to open a five-game homestand that continues Friday night with the Texas Rangers in town, they were greeted by more than 13,000 cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands, spanning nearly the entire lower bowl of T-Mobile Park and most of the second deck in left field.
After Seattle snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, Mariners manager Scott Servais made note of it at the start of his postgame Zoom news conference.
“It was a fun game and a lot to talk about,” Servais said. “Before I start, I just want to say thank you to our fan base. It’s pretty cool when you walk out into our stadium and see 13,000 cutouts of our fans. Even one of the umpires made comments to me before the game that there’s nothing like it.”
The Mariners have had some fun with the promotion, which they call their “Seat Fleet,” by including a cutout of Steve Bartman, the infamous Chicago fan who many in the Windy City blame for costing the Cubs a shot at the 2003 World Series when he deflected a foul ball down the left field line in the National League Championship Series.
Behind the third base dugout Thursday during the Mariners’ 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, longtime ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Kenny Mayne, a Seattle-area native, was “seated” in the first row next to Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
“Even though they’re not real, it says a lot and means a lot to our guys and we really appreciate it,” Servais said.
The Rangers, who took two of three games against the Mariners last week in Arlington, Texas, are scheduled to start Kolby Allard (0-1, 5.25 ERA) on Friday. The left-hander won his only career appearance against Seattle last season, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Texas has lost five in a row, including a four-game sweep of a home-and-home series against San Diego. The Padres hit grand slams in each of those games, becoming the first team to ever accomplish the feat and earning the moniker of “Slam Diego.”
The Rangers made several roster moves Thursday, including putting outfielder Willie Calhoun (left hamstring strain) and shortstop Elvis Andrus (lower back strain) on the 10-day injured list.
It’s been a tough season for Calhoun, who sustained a broken jaw when hit by a pitch in spring training.
“He was really excited about this year,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Calhoun. “He was hungry. He was ready to take on the world, basically, take on the league. I feel for him. But he’s got a great attitude. He’s looking at it like, ‘Hey man, there are better days ahead.’ He’s just going to stay positive and battle through it, because that’s all you can do at this point.”
The Mariners are set to counter with lefty Nick Margevicius (0-1, 3.14 ERA), who has allowed seven hits and two runs in 9 1/3 innings over two starts in place of Kendall Graveman (neck). Margevicius will be facing the Rangers for the first time.
–Field Level Media