SEATTLE -- It took an 11-day wait, but Mariners closer Edwin Diaz racked his 57th save of the season in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Rangers to move into a tie for the second-most saves in a season in Major League history.With just one game remaining, Diaz won't catch Francisco
SEATTLE -- It took an 11-day wait, but Mariners closer Edwin Diaz racked his 57th save of the season in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Rangers to move into a tie for the second-most saves in a season in Major League history.
With just one game remaining, Diaz won't catch Francisco Rodriguez's 2008 record of 62, but he's now tied with Bobby Thigpen of the 1990 White Sox for second.
"It's been an incredible season," Diaz said. "We'll try to get one more tomorrow. Let's see what happens."
Diaz's record-setting pace slowed late in the season as the Mariners didn't get in any save situations for the previous 10 games. But that didn't change the amazing impact he had on his club, including Saturday's three-strikeout effort capped by a bases-loaded whiff of Jurickson Profar after an error, hit by pitch and infield single made things interesting.
Diaz said he didn't think about the significance of his 57th save during that inning, but manager Scott Servais admitted it was on his mind.
"It's an unbelievable number," Servais said. "I'm thinking of it as I watched. The first out in the ninth inning and I start looking around it's like, 'Wow, that is some kind of season.' It is so hard to do that. I don't think people realize all the one-run saves, the workload, staying focused all year long. It's just a special talent. I'm very thankful to have to him at the back end of that bullpen."
Starter James Paxton is equally appreciative of having the shut-down closer working behind him.
"He was huge," Paxton said. "He's had an historic season and has been absolutely amazing. He's an extremely talented guy. He's got some stuff nobody else has out there, just electric stuff, and it's really fun to watch."
After the Mariners were eliminated from realistic playoff contention with a rough August, much of the final month's drama centered on whether their flame-throwing 24-year-old could reach the MLB record. But as is the life of a closer, Diaz's opportunities depend on his team playing -- and leading -- close games. After thriving in that situation much of the year, the Mariners had not had a save opportunity for Diaz over their last 10 games heading into Saturday. The Mariners won four games in that stretch, but three were blowouts by a combined 26 runs and the other was an 11-inning victory in which Diaz pitched a scoreless 10th to keep the game tied in a non-save situation.
"It's been tough," Diaz said prior to Saturday's game. "I want to pitch, I want to save games. I got used to seeing close games every night, now we're winning by a lot. But that's fine. It's a long season. When they give me the ball, I'm ready to go."
Whether he passes Thigpen in the final game or not, Diaz will have ventured where few have ever been before.
"My goal was 40 saves before the season started," he said. "I'm at  and it's pretty special to me. I worked hard to get ready for this season, and I feel like I helped the team win a lot of games."
Negron continues making his case
Utility man Kristopher Negron filled in capably at shortstop after Segura was benched Friday, his first extensive action at that spot since being acquired from the D-backs on Aug. 30. While he's gone 0-for-11 on the homestand to drop his average to .222 (6-for-27) with the Mariners, the 32-year-old has shown well defensively, including several outstanding plays in the outfield.
"He's a playmaker," Servais said. "He's had a lot of balls hit his way for whatever reason, and he's handled most everything that's come his way. He's been really good in the outfield. I fired him in at short yesterday and he handled the plays fine, no panic.
"Once we get into Spring Training, where you can see a guy play regularly for a 25-to-30-day period, you might get a better grip on things. But there's nothing like being in a big league game and trying to make evaluations there. I think he's shown very well."
Servais indicated a utility player needs to bring some offensive threat as well as defensive versatility in order to give regulars more extensive time off. Andrew Romine hit .207/.258/.241 in 116 at-bats this year, so Negron's bat figures to be a key factor to watch going forward.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.