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May 28, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Mariners not doing normal stuff it takes to win, lose the gamble on a one-shot momentum stealer

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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why third base coach Jeff Datz waved Brendan Ryan around for that shot at an inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning. Or why Ryan was still high on an adrenaline rush from it after this fifth straight defeat for the Mariners.
This team had no business even being in this game.
The Mariners looked unsteady and incapable for most of their eight innings facing Matt Harrison and only had the shot at making it a one-run affair because center fielder Craig Gentry foolishly let Ryan’s liner get by him wth a three-run lead. No, you don’t dive for singles and risk turning them into two-run homers with a three-run lead and six outs to go.
But Gentry opened that door and Ryan and Datz tried to kick in it. Yeah, it backfired and the Mariners lost 4-2. Had they held Ryan at third, they might have lost by the same score the way they’re hitting these days. Or, maybe they’d have lost 4-3.
Or, maybe they take a chance and score and good things happen in the ninth. Who knows?
Fact is, they didn’t deserve to win this game. Datz took a chance and the Rangers made a perfect defensive play to get Ryan. That happens.
The rest of it? For me, not worth gnashing teeth over. The Mariners deserved to lose this game. Datz didn’t cost them the game, nor did Ryan. They were living on borrowed time handed them by Gentry. Anybody who doesn’t understand that really isn’t much in-tune with what’s happening with this team long-term. The Mariners simply don’t look very good right now. They had their moments last week against Texas but since then it’s too much same old, same old.
This looks like a $60 million team trying to compete against squads worth $150 million and $120 million. And for the most part, when you take away the Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez non contributions and look at what Ichiro delivers for his $18 million this is pretty much a $60 million team.
And that team is playing like one. So, complaining about a non-inside-the-park homer that may have helped salvage an otherwise lost cause, to me, seems to miss the point. But what do I know? I just want to see this team win a title at some point in your lifetimes. not engage in perpetual rebuilding while filling the interim years in with that year’s best dumpster-diving hauls.
“It’s the same old story,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “These guys are going to have to dig deep and put into play what we want them to do offensively,” Wedge said. “We talk to them about it, we’ve explained it to them. I think they have a good understanding of what they need to do, but making sure that it translates into games, that’s what we’re not seeing.
“And that’s the frustrating part for me as the manager of this ballclub. Because to win up here in the big leagues, you can’t have to play perfect to win ballgames. And the only way you can do that is to be better offensively. To be more cnsistent offensively.
“You cant wait around for the next guy to do it,” he added. “You’ve got to take it. You’ve got to do it. That’s where the ‘dig deep’ comes from. Whether we’re taking fastballs we should be swinging at, whether we’re tardy on fastballs where we should be squaring up, or whether we’re chasing balls out of the zone.
“We’re doing too much of all three.”
And not giving themselves any margin for error. No team in baseball is ever perfect all the time, as Wedge says. So, you have to do the normal stuff it takes to win games, like collect more than a half-dozen singles a night. Like driving the ball with runners in scoring position.
And if players can’t do that consistently, you have to get players who can. This rebuilding p;an can’t go on and on trying to figure it out. The Mariners have this year to sort through this pile of prospects and then have to start making some serious strides.
Because whether it’s the bullpen pieces not getting it done, or the hitters not scoring, this is a team that will have to take some gambles in the interim in order to avoid another 95-loss season. Without those gambles, the M’s just don’t have what it takes to win consistently. Not now. Not against good teams.


Just as you’d expect, Datz fell on the sword afterwards.
“I thought, really that he was going to make it and that’s why I sent him,” Datz said.
Later, he added: “I’m kicking myself in the tail for sending him now. I should have held him and had a runner at third. Ground ball and we’re 4-3. So, a big play in the game and it obviously turned out to be a bad call by the third base coach.”
Datz shouldn’t kick himself too hard. I can think of some better recipients in need of a good kick.
Again, the third base coach will never admit it, but he didn’t send Ryan merely because he thought he had a good chance. He sent him because the way this team hits, Ryan was liable to still be on third base three outs later had he held him.
I asked Ryan whether he felt that played a part in the decision to wave him around. That this was a team in need of a spark, not cautious conservatism.
“Yeah, I mean I think that’s probably what’s going through our mind right there,” he said. “Who knows what happens therw? Maybe we have a small parade in the dugout and — boom! — now there’s electricity and we take off from there.
“All the momentum goes our way and who knows? It’s a young team and it’s something we maybe could have fed off. It didn’t happen but for Datz’s sake, we’re not getting 15 hits a game…I don’t blame him at all. It’s a tough call.”
Ryan said he loved getting the opportunity.
“I’ll never forget that as long as I live,” Ryan said. “I don’t even know if I touched the plate, but it was close. I never had the opportunity before. Loss aside and all that, it would have been pretty sweet. Kind of like a baseball bucket list thing and all that.”
Ryan said he tried to shift it into another gear as he rounded third, but just had nothing left.
His team now needs to once again shift it into another gear and find something. The M’s were in a similar spot after that series in Cleveland ended 11 days ago. The difference this time is, there are no Colorado Rockies awaiting them. No three days of batting practice ahead. Things are tough now and the cavalry is nowhere in sight.
The cavalry is for off-season shopping to take care of.
Wedge knows it. That’s probably why he’s been so antsy of late and is starting to look real worried as this Mariners product prepares to stumble into June.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins

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