Brendan Ryan took a unique approach every time he batted Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I was kind of treating it like three pinch-hits,” he said.
That’s because Ryan, the Mariners’ starting shortstop at the beginning of the year who lost his spot midseason to rookie Brad Miller, has only played three times in August. Ryan didn’t look to work the count when he got the start at shortstop Sunday; second baseman Nick Franklin was sick so Miller took his spot.
Instead, he just tried to go after the first good pitch he saw. And it led to him singling in the fifth inning and, most important, grounding out to second in the third inning. Ryan’s ground out came with Ackley on second and no outs. It allowed Ackley to advance to third.
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Ackley scored a few pitches later when Brewers starter Wily Peralta threw a wild pitch, and Ackley raced home to give the Mariners the only run they needed.
Ryan’s single snapped an 0-for-19 slump and was his first hit in a month.
“I don’t think you can be too picky,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to take what’s given to you. That was kind of the mentality.”
Ryan is hitting just .189 this year. He hit just .194 the season before. He has always been a good defensive player and made an incredible play in the fourth inning. He came charging in on a chopping grounder, fielded it barehanded and fired to first off balance to get the speedy Carlos Gomez.
But Ryan still sounds frustrated when talking about his struggles at the plate, which have diminished his playing time. He started for the first time since Aug. 4 and for only the seventh time since June.
“It’s not about the amount of reps you get,” Ryan said. “It’s about the quality of work you’re putting into it. I’ve had plenty of reps. I’m in there probably hitting too much. I’m just trying to get things back to where I’m having competitive at-bats consistently, and I know that I can do that.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating and disappointing these last two seasons with what’s gone on at the plate. No one really cares. Anybody can try, but it comes down to the bottom line.”
• Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson said Hisashi Iwakuma’s tweaked lower back is fine. Iwakuma tweaked his back in the seventh inning Saturday night while moving toward first on a bunt. He struggled to keep the ball down in the inning, and the Brewers scored six runs. After the game, Iwakuma said his back had something to do with his trouble keeping the ball down, but Thompson said Iwakuma will make his next start.
• Closer Danny Farquhar has retired 25 of his last 27 hitters, not allowing a run.