Nolan Ryan: baseball great, right?
Ryan may have been thinking football season after his Texas Rangers (he's principal owner and team president) lost to the Mariners by a Seahawks-Cowboys-like 21-8 Wednesday (May 30). It was such an unexpected display of run production by Seattle that certain observers may have wondered whether they could see Ryan reprising some of his eye-rolling takes from famous TV commercials of recent years (he'd become a product shill for the practiced perturbed look he emoted when a big-box-store clerk proved to be a greater fan fave than the strikeout great).
Ryan's Rangers have been the class of the American League the past couple of seasons. Maybe that's why he and pal George W. Bush looked smug as they sat in primo seats Monday (May 28) in Arlington, Texas, and watched their league-leading legion defeat Seattle 4-2.
Within the next 48 hours, Ryan would show how quickly "smug" can become "ugh." His expression started to change Tuesday night when the erstwhile unproductive M's put up six during the eighth inning on their way to a 10-3 win. If eye-rollin' Nolan looked his TV-ad maddest on Tuesday, Seattle viewers saw during the M's eight-run second inning Wednesday that the team leader had practically morphed into cryin' Ryan. After the visitors put up another eight during the third, dyin' Ryan looked about ready to pack up and leave.
By the time the 200-minute marathon was over, the 21-8 score meant the M's had put up 31 runs during a span of 10 innings. Such a run total is what Mariner partisans have expected to see during a stretch of 10 days.
A baseball cliché is that hitting is contagious. Wednesday it was epidemic, with Texas pitchers yielding 20 hits, including four home runs (two by former Ranger Justin Smoak) and seven doubles. After three at-bats, Jesus Montero needed only a triple to complete the cycle, which eluded him.
In the aftermath of a game that included 13 hits by the home team, Seattle manager Eric Wedge, admirably passive in defeat and (less frequently) victory this experimental season, spoke his own clichés about the advisability of players swinging at hittable pitches and staying away from everything else. The only bad aspect of Seattle's post-game situation was that team personnel would have to wait until Friday for the next game, in Chicago.
The key irony of the second highest M's run total ever (they put up 22 during a 1999 game) was that they did it without one of the most productive hitters in team history. Wedge had spoken recently about resting Ichiro. What a night to do it, the secondary irony being that Ich found himself getting off the bench so often to congratulate teammates that he might as well have been in the game.
In any case, as long as we're having fun with numbers it's worth noting that Wednesday's 21-run total equals the scoring output of the M's during their recent seven-game home stand. This could be a sobering way of suggesting that 31 runs during the recent pair of games is scarcely a guarantee that Seattle's hitting woes are over. Maybe the capability of recent two double-digit run outputs constitutes a fluke.
Nolan Ryan undoubtedly will be hoping so the next time the M's show up in Arlington. That would be Sept. 14: football season.