Servais: Diaz was right man for situation

Servais: Diaz was right man for situation

ARLINGTON -- For Scott Servais, the decision was clear. After needing three relievers to get three outs and giving up two runs in the seventh, he brought in 22-year-old rookie closer Edwin Diaz for the final two innings after his team regained a one-run lead in the top of the eighth Tuesday at Globe Life Park.

Diaz had notched 11 straight saves since being promoted to the closer's role at the start of August, and he hadn't pitched in the previous three games. But after escaping trouble with two walks in the eighth, the youngster gave up a ninth-inning leadoff single to Adrian Beltre and then a walk-off blast by Rougned Odor as the Mariners dropped an 8-7 heartbreaker to the Rangers, their seventh loss in the past eight games.

"We're going for it," Servais said of his decision to push Diaz even after he needed 24 pitches in the eighth. "Where we're at in the season, we're in a tough stretch playing really good teams. With the way our team battled tonight, I wanted to have our best guy, our hottest guy, on the mound there at the end. We did, it just didn't work out."

Diaz, who converted from a starting role in midseason in Double-A Jackson, said fatigue wasn't an issue.

"No, no, no," he said. "I started missing over the plate with my fastball. I was feeling great. I made a couple mistakes and I got the loss. That last pitch the catcher called outside and I missed in the middle. He hit that ball pretty good. And Beltre, that high fastball, I didn't think he'd reach that. But that's part of the game."

It's a tough part for any closer, being asked to go multiple innings. Diaz got a five-out save in his prior outing Friday in a 3-1 win over the White Sox, but couldn't finish the job this time.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister credited his team for working Diaz hard in the eighth before getting to him in the ninth.

"It's hard to get a six-out save," Banister said. "It's extremely difficult, and our guys made him work. He was probably not as sharp as he was the [eighth] inning, but he's still a dangerous pitcher."

The hard-throwing youngster has 70 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings and has been a dominant factor in the Mariners' late-season success.

"Diaz has been phenomenal," said third baseman Kyle Seager. "If anybody is allowed to have a hiccup, as good as he's been, it's allowed. He's been outstanding for us all year. I don't think anybody on our team would not want him to have the ball."

Servais had hoped to have Steve Cishek and Diaz split the final three innings, but Cishek was able to get only one out in the seventh sandwiched around two singles. That led to Vidal Nuno and rookie Dan Altavilla being called upon to get the final outs of that frame, and left Diaz as what Servais felt was his best remaining option over Arquimedes Caminero and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.

"I don't know where else we were going to go," Servais said. "The seventh inning got away from us. We were trying to work through that and mix and match it with Cishek. We had a lead and were trying to hold on to it. We had a one-run lead with Diaz on the mound, and we'll take that every night. It just didn't work out."

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.