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July 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Mariners doing a bunch of basic things right

Yeah, it might all be because of Kansas City Royals pitching and terrible Tampa Bay Rays hitting last weekend, but the Mariners have suddenly won eight of 12 games and five of their last seven.
I know, I know. The Royals. Like I said, the Mariners scored 41 times against the Royals their last six games and only 45 against all other teams in July. But hey, the stats all count for something and you’ve got to start somewhere.
John Jaso is proving quite a find. I’ve said it before, the Mariners have used him perfectly this season as a backup catcher and part-timer off the bench. He’s up to a .394 OBP and a .873 OPS in that role.
So, yeah, you might want to play him more, but not to the point where you mess too much with the numbers. Though, I’ve gotta say, there’s a margin for error with an OBP and OPS that high.
Jaso gives the best at-bats on the team night-in, night-out. Warmed up, or coming in cold. He’s a pro.
Tonight, he took a first-pitch ball from Jeremy Guthrie with runners at the corners and then sat on a fastball. Jaso wasn’t going to swing at anything low for fear of grounding into a double-play and he had room to take a low strike with the 1-0 count.
But when Guthrie put a 96 mph cutter belt-high down the middle, Jaso didn’t sit around waiting. He obliterated the ball for a three-run homer and that was pretty much the game right there in the first inning.
“I wax looking for a ball up and something I could get to the outfield,” said Jaso, who drove in four runs on the night. “That’s just what I got and luckily I put enough barrel on it to get it out.”
There was nothing lucky about it. A hitter went up there knowing the situation, knowing the count was in his favor and zoning in on anything that crossed into his wheelhouse.
It was a bad pitch, to be certain. But hitters do miss 96 mph pitches right down the middle. Jaso doesn’t. That’s because he’s prepared.
“The one thing you know you’re going to get from him is a quality at-bat,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “If you look at his at-bats, that’s what we’re looking to do with all of our guys.”

Thanks to the Royals and their abysmal pitching, some Mariners in need of a stats boost are getting the chance to work on the quality of their at-bats while generating positive results at the same time.
Dustin Ackley had been 0-for-20 coming into the series and 1-for-25 the past week. Now, he’s got four hits in the series — including two well-lined doubles to the gap.
I asked Ackley whether the results are cause for a bit of relief.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Especially with the balls I’ve hit the past two days where you hit them in the gap and you know it’s going to be a double or a triple. What you’re always looking for is those ones off the bat where you know they’re a hit.”
Mike Carp now has five hits in the series after going hitless in two games after being called up from Class AAA. He hit his first homer since May 20 tonight.
Brendan Ryan has his average up to .195 now after two more hits tonight and three on the series so far.
So yeah, a little KC cooking is helping Seattle at home.
Blake Beavan helped himself out tonight by ditching a curveball he admitted was “terrible” and throwing only fastballs and sliders the rest of the way. He’d put two curveballs in the dirt in the second inning, allowing Billy Butler to take second and then third off him before scoring on a sac fly.
But once that inning was done, Beavan shelved the curve and went primarily with a fastball showing more life than usual.
“I think anytime when you’re spotting your fastball, it’s going to play a lot harder than what the (radar) gun says,” Beavan said.
This time, it did. He notched six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. His season-high had been seven in Colorado back in May.
The Royals are a much better hitting team than the Rockies. So, take that. Another positive.
The M’s are beating up on somebody else for a change. Enjoy it for as long as it lasts. At this rate, they could escape July with a winning record.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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