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July 4, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Justin Smoak, Brendan Ryan took their aggressive chances on basepaths to try to get Mariners a run

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There was some aggressive baserunning today by Mariners trying to help this offensively-challenged team score.
We saw some from Justin Smoak in the fifth as he rounded second on that flyball to deep left center by Jack Cust. Unfortunately for Smoak, the ball was caught and he was doubled-off.
But then, we saw more aggressive baserunning from Brendan Ryan in the seventh. Ryan was on first base and figured Brandon McCarthy was going to throw an off-speed pitch, so he took off for second on a steal attempt.
Turns out, McCarthy threw a fastball. Right down the middle. And Smoak, well, he Smoaked it to the right field corner.
With Ryan on the move already, the M’s had themselves a run and went on to win the game 2-1. But no, it was not a hit-and-run. Ryan was going on his own, trying to make something happen. Just as Smoak had been doing earlier on.

Ryan said he thought about Smoak getting doubled off the bag earlier as he broke for second and then kept on going. But he didn’t care. He knew he had to make something happen and then score when he had the chance.
“We have to take chances,” Ryan said. “We don’t have guys who are going to hit 40 or 50 home runs, so, as long as they’re logical, smart chances…you can’t hang your head too much.”
Smoak was pretty much of the same mindset.
“Cust crushed that ball,” Smoak said. “I was sure it was going to be off the wall or gone. It’s one of those things where, if it’s off the wall, I’ve got a chance to score.”
It didn’t, though, and he was doubled-off. Get used to it. As long as this offense remains as hamstrung as it’s been at scoring, you’re going to see these guys take some chances. Some will succeed and some will look real bad when they fail. But the M’s needed some runs today. They got two.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge needs more of this from Smoak, who finished the day with two hits after being in a 1-for-32 slump.
“Brendan got a good jump on that steal and then Smoak was able to hit it down to the corner,” Wedge said. “That was big for us. I still feel like he’s heading in the right direction, like we talked about before the game. And we saw some more of that.”
Michael Pineda? Yeah, he pitched OK. Faced the minimum 13 batters after Kurt Suzuki’s run-scoring hit in the second. Pineda did walk a guy after that, but erased him on a double play.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the A’s thought.
“He’s got a great arm,” Suzuki said. “That fastball just jumps on you. He doesn’t make it easy. He had his pitches working, kept the ball down in the zone. He’s good. He’s young but he’s good.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said: “When he’s throwing strikes, not only does he have plus stuff, he’s difficult to think along with as well. Because you have to get the bat head out for the fastball and he’s not afraid to throw the slider in behind counts.”
The teams continue the series tomorrow night and Felix Hernandez has to step up big. No more half-measure starts. His team isn’t scoring and needs Hernandez to be a “King” tomorrow night. A “Prince” just won’t do. The easier the M’s make things on themselves in this series, the more breathing room they buy in Anaheim coming up.
Oakland simply can’t score right now. The M’s have to keep taking advantage of that if they want to stay alive in the AL West.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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