Vincent quickly earning Mariners' trust

Vincent quickly earning Mariners' trust

SEATTLE -- Nick Vincent was general manager Jerry Dipoto's last addition to the Mariners' bullpen, acquired in a trade from the Padres just five days before the regular-season opener in what appeared a minor deal at the time for a player to be named.

But Vincent has quickly become an integral part of the Mariners' early relief success, posting a 1.86 ERA in 10 outings while allowing just four hits in 9 2/3 innings with no walks and 12 strikeouts entering play Saturday vs. the Royals. And the 29-year-old right-hander notched his biggest out yet in Friday's 1-0 victory over the Royals, replacing Felix Hernandez with a runner on third and two out in the eighth inning and immediately getting Lorenzo Cain to ground out to second.

"That was a good game. Close game," Vincent said. "I'm used to being in those situations. My main thing was to try to strike him out. I left a pitch more middle and hittable, but he hit a ground ball right at second base. I'll take it."

The Mariners will happily take Vincent's results to date as well. Manager Scott Servais has gained confidence so quickly that he used the 6-foot, 185-pounder in the eighth-inning setup role in that scenario with Joaquin Benoit on the disabled list.

Not bad for a guy picked up at the last minute to fill Seattle's void following some spring setbacks.

"It speaks to the job our front-office guys have done in identifying players like that," Servais said prior to Saturday's game with the Royals. "We had some injuries in camp bullpen-wise, so you're looking at who is out there. When Jerry first brought his name up to me, I did not know Nick Vincent, to be honest. Jerry filled me in on his track record and the fact he tried to acquire him in the past.

"He thought he'd be a great fit for where we were, and somebody who could grow into carrying a heavy load in our bullpen if we needed it. [Friday] night, he did a great job. That was going to be his hitter and he attacked. He's attacked every time he's come in. He goes right after them. He knows who he is, and he executes."

Vincent had a 2.63 ERA in 161 appearances for the Padres the prior four years, but was out of Minor League options and San Diego didn't have a spot for him to open the season. So Dipoto jumped at the opportunity, and now Vincent is taking advantage.

Stepping up with a chance to help Hernandez notch a 1-0 win was a perfect opportunity for the newcomer.

"That's where I want to be, in situations like that with a guy on base and the starter's over there watching you, wanting you to get out of it," Vincent said. "Those things build confidence between pitchers. Sometimes they want to stay in in that situation, because it's their runs or whatever, but it builds confidence between starters and relievers, knowing the relievers can go in there and shut the door. I'm glad I got that out and we can build from there."

Worth noting

• Hernandez's 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Friday's win lowered his career ERA in April to 2.41 in 381 1/3 frames. That's the third-lowest April ERA for any pitcher with 200-plus innings, trailing only Hall of Famers Bob Feller (2.04) and Walter Johnson (2.21).

• By winning Friday's game with just one hit, the Mariners became the second team since 1914 to win a game with one hit and lose a game while allowing just one hit in the same season. They lost the season opener to Texas, 3-2, despite Hernandez and the bullpen allowing just one hit. The Boston Braves and St. Louis Cardinals managed that feat in 1914, but the only team since before Friday had been the Rays in 2014.

• Friday's win was just the second time in club history the Mariners have won a game with just one hit, the other coming on April 27, 2002, against the Yankees.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.