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July 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Brendan Ryan gets his “Mendoza” beer shower as Mariners celebrate sixth straight win

ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you missed this morning’s Talkin’ Baseball segment on Sports Radio KJR, you can click on the podcast link below. A bit outdated at this point regarding the trade deadline, but that’s OK. Plenty of other stuff.
You could hear all the yelling and laughter in the clubhouse post-game tonight after the Mariners won their sixth in a row. It was nice to see. Part of it was the sheer feat of Brendan Ryan finally getting back over the .200 Mendoza line in batting average with three hits to help beat the Blue Jays 7-2.

Ryan is now hitting .205. The last time he was above .200? April 21. That, my friends, is the true spirit of Mendoza. A guy playing the majority of the season below .200 while remaining in the lineup daily.
“I’m still trying to get ketchup out of my ears,” Ryan said. “But yeah, good times. I didn’t want to rain on the parade or anything. It could always dip right back down.”
It’s taken a lot of work for Ryan to climb out of this hole.
“I was like ‘Man, it’s got to be close now’,” Ryan said, adding that he told himself “Hopefully, with that last broken snarf, whatever that was, hopefully we’re over now.’ I know it’s not going to take too many at-bats to dip beneath. But I’m trying to just have solid contact and hopefully they find holes.
“And they did today.”
Ryan said his struggles have involved “a lot of pulling your hair out at one in the morning after the games, knowing there might have been an at-bat in the seventh where you left someone on base in scoring position. Or, going and having poor at-bats and having six good pitches to hit and fouling off five of them and taking the sixth.
“It’s just been such a battle to put together consistent good at-bats. So, it’s been nice that there’s been a little bit of a run here.”
As I mentioned earlier today in a post imploring the Mariners not to trade Ryan and even to look at extending him multiple years, his offense has been better for some time now. It just takes a while to climb out of that sub-.200 range when you get off to such a poor start.
Miguel Olivo is in the same boat. He had a brutal few opening weeks and has fought to pull out of it ever since. He is now back up to .208 on the season with those two hits tonight, including the two-run single that pushed the M’s up into positive run differential for the season at +1.
The Mariners have won 12 of their last 16 games and a big reason is their ability to score early.

You had Dustin Ackley hitting Aaron Laffey’s first pitch of the game out of the ballpark and the Mariners never trailed after that.
The Mariners have scored in the first two innings of 14 of those 16 games in which they’ve gone 12-4. They have scored 44 of their last 81 runs in the first two innings.
They have 29 first inning runs in their last 22 games. In the 65 games prior, they’d scored only 26 runs in the first inning.
“I feel like we get that momentum and we just carry it throughout the game,” Ackley said. “When our pitchers are out there comfortable and confident, I think that helps everybody.”
What that also means is, they are getting the jump on teams and putting them on the defensive right away. For most of the season, it’s been the M’s on their heels.
Another trend I’ve noticed the past handful of games is that the M’s have stopped scoring all of their runs the first two innings and then taking the rest of the game off.
They did that at Tampa Bay and again for part of the Yankees series.
Laffey was not very good tonight as a starting pitcher. But that’s not the M’s fault. All they could do was keep putting the pressure on him and that’s what they did. Laffey didn’t suddenly find himself and make it through seven innings with four runs allowed. The M’s knocked him from the game in the fifth with two out.
Big difference from what we were seeing before, like in Kansas City two weeks ago when they got to Will Smith early but then let him stick around through six.
The M’s did not play down to the level of their opponent tonight, as they had been doing in some of their earlier wins. They played a good all-around ballgame, as they did last night. Unlike the Royals, these Blue Jays have something to play for so there’s no excuse for them to come in unfocused and I’m going to assume that’s not the case. They just got beat.
And that’s why the M’s are happier. That’s why they’re throwing beer showers.
“We’re just excited,” Mariners starter Jason Vargas said after improving to 12-7 with a 3.71 ERA. “We’re winning games and not just winning them by one run. We’re putting together innings where we’re scoring multiple runs. And we’re not just scratching them, we’re hitting the ball hard and putting the on the defense.”
So, that’s a positive sign. The M’s are playing more complete ballgames.
Vargas is a bit relieved to still be here after the trade deadline.
“We’ve been playing really well and I think, with most of the pieces still in place, it shows a lot of confidence in what we’re trying to do,” Vargas said. “To be a part of that is great for me.”
So, we’ll see whether they can keep it going. The M’s are on a nice run for now with only two more starts between now and the next Felix Hernandez outing. Want to extend a winning streak? Bridge the gap to Felix. That’s how it’s done.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley


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