Follow us:

Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

June 26, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Some extra work behind scenes paid off tonight for Mariners

There were some sighs of relief in the clubhouse tonight after the Mariners finally pulled out that 3-2 win. The Mariners had another 14 strikeouts in this game — giving them 25 in two contests against the Oakland Athletics so far — but they sure are finding it hard to record wins.
They did it tonight, thanks largely to the bullpen work of Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen, but also because of extra stuff done behind the scenes by Jason Vargas and Brendan Ryan.
Vargas tied his career high with 10 strikeouts tonight after some between-starts bullpen work on his changeup.
“We were just not getting the same types of swings and misses and even takes,” Vargas said. “It was just something that needed to be addressed. Really finishing the pitch and not changing the arm action. So, the bullpen was extended a bit and it paid off.”
It did indeed tonight. Vargas was spotting his fastball early and aggressively and once he could do that, his changeup — improved arm-action and all — became that much more lethal.
“It made them be aggressive and then I was able to work off tyhat with the changeup,” Vargas said. “Just make them have to be in an attack mode, where they have to go on the offensive and then I can use that to my advantage.”
When a pitcher comes out aggressively throwing early strikes, hitters know they have to go up there swinging. And when they do that too aggressively, as Vargas was saying, a changeup really throws them off balance.
Furbush did a magnificent job of pitching out of that little jam in the eighth. He’s now tossed 15 straight scoreless innings and is really taking to that setup role when needed.
“It wasn’t exactly how I planned it,” Furbush said. “But I just tried to bear down, make some pitches and get it done.”
Furbush isn’t sure he’s in “a defined role” but is trying simply to pitch his game and not worry about when he comes in.
Brendan Ryan didn’t have to worry about being taken out of the game tonight.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge could have pinch-hit for him. But with the score tied, he wanted him in there for his defense and noted that the A’s had a left-hander up and ready in the bullpen, that would have negated any use of John Jaso as a pinch-hitter.
Plus, he added, Ryan has been hitting the ball better after plenty of additional work behind the scenes.
“He’s been staying in the middle of the field better, seeing the ball better and his balance has been better,” Wedge said. “You can tell that by his takes. And obviously, he stepped up big.”
Ryan had jumped ahead 3-0 in the count on Jim Miller before getting a slider on the next pitch. That was something that stuck in Ryan’s mind, letting him know Miller wasn’t afraid to throw a breaking ball in a critical situation that pitchers tend to use fastballs in.
Especially when the count went to 3-2.
“When he threw the 3-0 breaking ball, I knew 3-2, especially these days it seems like 3-2 is not a neutral count,” Ryan said. “Especially with a base open, I knew we had Ichiro on deck…it’s just not a neutral count anymore.”
So, he prepared himself for the possibility a slider might come.
“When he threw the 3-0 slider, like I said, you didn’t know what was going to come…,” Ryan said. “So, i wanted to make sure…I didn’t want to be passive up there and take a third strike. Because I’m hitting .170, .180. I’m not the guy you want to walk, so I’m just glad it worked out.”
It did indeed. With a little work in advance and some thinking when it mattered.
Baseball is a game that requires brains as well as skill. And tonight, the Mariners used some to their advantage.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►