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July 7, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Mariners get what they’ve been looking for all too often from the offense

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Mariners manager Eric Wedge was in a much better mood after this 7-1 win than he had been most of the past week.
It helps when the team puts up at least seven runs for the first time since June 20. Doesn’t hurt when Jason Vargas tosses a complete game, tying a team record by inducing four double-play grounders.
But will it impact the bigger picture? Only he knows.
“Tonight was what were looking for,” Wedge said. “If anybody’s wondering, that type of game was a complete ballgame.”
It was indeed, both on offense, the mound and on defense. Kyle Seager got a ton of action at third base, while Brendan Ryan might have made the play of the year on that second inning grounder by Jonny Gomes. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a shortstop go as deep in the hole as Ryan did (seen it live, I should say) and make the play.
“You see (Vargas) turn around and get excited about it,” Ryan said. “Hopefully it was a little spark for us, a little momentum swing. Whatever. I’m just trying to get outs. I’m sure the skipper was pleased with the leather that was thrown around out there today. Kyle (Seager) was outstanding at third and everybody was just trying to make plays.”
Seager had the big hit with the bases loaded and two out. Driving in runs with two out is becoming a bit of a Seager specialty.
“I think when you have two out and there’s a guy in scoring position, you stay in the middle of the field and try not to do too much,” Seager said.
That he doesn’t do.
Some other guys have been trying to do too much and it’s shown. Now, it’s tight-collar time for some younger players trying to avoid being sent down to Class AAA next week.
Justin Smoak would be one of those. He entered with a .202 batting average and mired in a 4-for-35 (.114) slump. That ground-rule double in the second was only his fifth two-bagger of the season.
Smoak agreed with me that it was something he could build off of.

“I feel like I’ve had some decent at-bats,” Smoak said. “Better left-handed than right-handed, but it’s just a matter of getting that rhythm from both sides of the plate. Last year, I was a better right-handed hitter than left-handed, so go figure.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve got to put the work in to get that rhythm from both sides.”
But there is only one game left until the break and one or two good results won’t often erase three months of bad ones.
Wedge mentioned after the game that Dustin Ackley — hitess again — had put a good swing at a ball in his final at-bat only to fly out. Wedge said he was looking for any positive signs he could find that would tell him some of these young hitters are close to finding it.
Smoak notching the double would be one of those positive signs.
But is it enough. I asked Smoak whether he felt any bigger sense of urgency given some of Wedge’s recent comments about possible demotions and the fact we’re now less than 24 hours from the all-star break.
“When you’re not going good, there’s always a sense of urgency there,” Smoak said, responding to a question about whether he felt any pressure in light of recent hints the team will be demoting players soon. “It comes with the territory. It’s definitely a process. But at the same time, it’s going up there and getting a pitch you can hit and doing something with it. That’s something I need to do a better job of.”
We’ll see whether what he did here and can do tomorrow will be enough to keep him up here. And he’s not alone.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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