By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — When the Mariners’ lineup was released on Sunday morning, there were more than a few eyebrows raised at the player occupying the lead-off spot.
Light-hitting shortstop Brendan Ryan, who came into Sunday’s game against the Texas Rangers hitting .182 with a .284 on-base percentage, was penciled in at the top of the lineup.
A typo it was not.
Because Texas All-Star starter Matt Harrison is so dominant against left-handed hitters, Wedge decided to give lefty-swinging Dustin Ackley a day off.
Left-handed hitters came into the game hitting just .178 against Harrison this season, while right-handers are hitting .291.
“We got a tough lefty with extreme splits,” Wedge said pregame.
After having quality at-bats and a few hard hits the last few games, Wedge didn’t want to set Ackley’s improvement set back by having him have to face Harrison.
“I feel like Ackley’s swing is definitely heading in the right direction,” Wedge said. “It’s been a tough matchup against this kid, so I didn’t want to disturb anything with that. I thought it was a good day to get Ackley a day off and let him sit on some good swings.”
Still, Wedge went with Ryan over Ichiro Suzuki, who remained at the No. 2 spot, or even go with Chone Figgins, who got a rare start on Sunday.
“I wanted a right-hander to lead-off against this guy,” Wedge said. “We have Figgins in there, but he hasn’t been playing. So we wanted an every day guy there, so Ryan is the guy.”
Ryan batted lead-off 40 times in his career. Twenty-two of those came in his best offensive season — 2009 — when he hit .292 for the Cardinals. He came in with career average of .266 batting lead-off. He was sixth different player to bat lead-off this season for Seattle.
Ryan went 1-4 against Harrison with a double to right-center. But he also had a hard line drive caught by second basemen Ian Kinsler that would have been scored a run in the second inning.
Ryan was glad to get the chance at the top of the order and would happily do it again, if asked.
“It’s a fun challenge,” Ryan said. “I want to be the guy that gets going and sparks things. When things are going alright, that’s something that can happen. It didn’t happen today, but if it comes up again, I will definitely be ready. I’m pumped that (Wedge) gave me the opportunity.”
Jesus Montero got the start at designated hitter, going 1-for-4 with a single. But he has yet to catch a game after taking a hard foul ball off the mask before the All-Star break, resulting in a mild concussion. Wedge said he expects Montero to be back catching in Kansas City. … Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (elbow stiffness) threw a bullpen session before the game. Wedge said everything went fine with the outing. Ramirez will throw two more sessions, a simulated game and then report to a rehab assignment. … Steve Delabar pitched two perfect innings, striking out three. He has 44 strikeouts this season, the most by any rookie reliever in baseball. Oakland’s Ryan Cook is second with 41. … Tom Wilhelmsen is extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings with a scoreless ninth inning. It’s the third longest streak in the American League.
Ryan Divish, the News Tribune