The two have journeyed for years in the Minors, hoping and believing their time would eventually come. And that time is now for Nola, a 29-year-old utility man who continued his excellent six-week introduction to the Majors by ripping a triple and double with three RBIs to ignite Seattle’s 8-1 victory over the Tigers on Saturday, helping the Mariners win their fourth straight.
Nola went 2-for-4 with a walk and is batting .328 in 29 games since being called up in mid-June after eight Minor League seasons.
“It’s an amazing transformation he’s made in his offensive game,” Servais said. “To do what he’s doing at this level, based on everything he’s been through in his career, it’s awesome to see. I’m really happy for him, and he isn’t backing off. He’s staying with the program. He works as hard as anybody we’ve got and handled everything we’ve thrown at him and done really, really well.”
Court, 31, has waited even longer, grinding out nine seasons in the Minors and a pair of stints in the independent leagues before getting his first MLB start on Saturday. The former 23rd-round Draft choice of the D-backs recorded his first Major League hit with an RBI single up the middle following Nola’s triple in the fourth inning, receiving a standing ovation from the T-Mobile Park crowd of 27,410. Court added a two-run ground-rule double in the seventh, going 2-for-5 in his first Major League start.
“I saw the video board [after my first hit] and that’s when it set in a little bit, the emotional wave of ‘You did it. That first hit,’” Court said. “The crowd has been awesome, too. Yesterday my first at-bat [in a pinch-hit appearance], the standing ovation, I got chills walking up to the box. I love Seattle. It’s been awesome.”
Court, an Illinois native, has been living with an uncle in nearby Issaquah while playing for Triple-A Tacoma, and he had a large contingent of family travel to Seattle for his first start. He said that support group means the world to him, having helped him reach his long-held dream, but he was still letting things sink in afterward.
“You step in the box and it’s the same game,” Court said. “Guys are better, it’s the best of the best. But it’s still the same game. You’re looking in the same zone. It hasn’t felt overwhelming yet. Obviously the family and aspect stuff has, but not the baseball. It’s been good.”
Nola and Court are two of 13 players who’ve made their MLB debuts this season with the Mariners, who also started rookie utility man Dylan Moore at shortstop while giving J.P. Crawford a day off. Moore went 1-for-3 with a double and walk and handled everything defensively to help Marco Gonzales roll to his 12th win of the season.
Gonzales allowed just six hits and one run over seven innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts, as he improved to 12-8 with a 4.21 ERA. The 27-year-old southpaw is 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA over his last nine outings.
Both Nola and Court are older than the 27-year-old Gonzales, but as a fifth-year Major League veteran, Gonzales appreciates the energy they’re bringing.
“What an awesome day for Ryan Court,” Gonzales said. “And to see what Austin Nola has been able to do since he’s come up here, I just absolutely love watching that guy play. To see those guys have success, to get a go-ahead RBI and a double in the gap, that’s just guys coming together and doing things the right way. It’s really good to see.”
The Tigers have lost 27 of their last 31 games and are 30-70, the worst record in the Majors. The Mariners’ four-game win streak is their longest since a 6-0 run put their record at 13-2 on April 11. They’ve since gone 32-61 and are last in the AL West at 45-63.
“We’re playing well and everybody is contributing,” Servais said. “That’s the way you draw it up.”