A night of high energy, key plays and a Mariners victory over the Phillies

A few things we learned from tonight’s 4-2 Mariners victory over the Philadelphia Phillies – the night most fans will remember as Dustin Ackley’s major league debut.

• Ackley had the crowd cheering from the moment he was introduced, and he gave them not only a taste of

his productive bat but also his play at second base.

Ackley bounced a single through Roy Oswalt’s legs in his first at-bat, flied out twice and lined out to go 1-for-4, but he also played without a hiccup in the field. No play was better than the around-the-horn double play that third baseman Chone Figgins started in the eighth inning after Carlos Ruiz had led off with a single. Jimmy Rollins hit a bouncer that Figgins fielded behind the bag at third before making a strong throw to Ackley. With Ruiz barreling into him, Ackley held his ground and barely beat Rollins at first with his throw.

Brendan Ryan, who drove in two runs with a triple and single, called the Figgins/Ackley turn the most important moment in the game.

“It’s a guy at the top of their lineup and not an easy play from end to end,” Ryan said. “It’s not a terribly hard-hit ball, Figgy’s got to go to his right and he’s on the chalk. It’s a tough spin for Ak and it’s his first game. That was absolutely huge.”

• When you’re talking huge, you’re talking Mariners starter Michael Pineda. He had the Phillies all but clueless through five innings, allowing a third-inning walk to Ben Francisco and a hit batter in the fourth when a fastball brushed Chase Utley.

The Phillies didn’t get their first hit until Shane Victorino’s two-out single in the sixth. Utley followed that with a single that drove home Rollins, who Pineda had walked, for the Phillies’ first run. After Utley’s hit, Pineda also walked Ryan Howard to load the bases, but he struck out Placido Polanco on what might be described as a country-justice call by plate umpire Doug Eddings.

Eddings had a sometimes-wide, sometimes-not strike zone, and it seemed Oswalt was getting the benefit of that moving target more than Pineda. At least, that’s what Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis thought when he went to the mound for a talk with Pineda in the sixth. Willis stayed long enough for Eddings to walk to the hill and break up the discussion, and that’s when Willis shared his opinion with the ump. I don’t read lips, but he wasn’t talking about the great weather.

A few pitches later, Polanco was blistering Eddings himself after a called third strike that bailed Pineda out of a huge jam and left the Mariners leading 3-1.

• Say what you want about Brendan Ryan’s offense this season, it was clear he’s comfortable against Oswalt, a pitcher he’d faced during his National League days with the Cardinals. Ryan entered with a .357 career average against Oswalt and bumped it to .412 with his 2-for-3 (plus a walk) game.

“I wouldn’t say I’m real comfortable against him,” Ryan said. “But I’ve seen him quite a bit. You try to come up with a good game plan, but a guy like that can still get you out four, five times. The key against him is getting a good pitch to hit. If those balls are foot lower and they’re both outs.”

• Not to dwell too much on the importance of that day off for Ichiro Suzuki earlier this month, but he’s a different player – especially at-bat – now than before. His three-hit, three-run game tonight gave him a streak of six straight multi-hit games. He’s batting .275.

• Whether it was because of Ackley’s debut, or the lure of the Phillies, or the gorgeous 65-degree evening, there was an energy in the stadium that’s been rare the past few years, and the crowd of 34,345 maintained it throughout the game.

Ackley got a couple of standing ovations and the crowd – with a healthy mix of Phillies jerseys, including a few No. 20 “Schmidt” — gave former Mariner Raul Ibanez a nice “Rauuuuuuuuuul!” when he batted.

That wasn’t “Rauuuuuuuuuul!” they were shouting during Chone Figgins’ 0-for-4 game, especially after his two foul popups. The booing got a little unfair when Figgins couldn’t catch a pop fly down the left field line, where he not only made a long run but tumbled firmly over the railing and into the front row.

• This Mariners team may not play a crisp game like this every night (go back to the first two games this against the Angels to find some pretty ugly baseball). But with the pitching and the youth and the energy we’re seeing, they’re worth watching.

I had a coach tell me this afternoon how much excitement there is in the clubhouse with the infusion of talented young players (and the lack of distractions that existed last year), and after the game Brendan Ryan couldn’t help but talk about Pineda and Ackley, particularly their poise.

“I don’t know what they’re teaching down in the minors,” Ryan said. “But you get Pineda and Ackley, these guys all come up and have really good poise. I know my first day, I was a mess. They’re both very calm and act like they’ve been there before.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (97) during the second quarter Monday. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Grading the Seahawks in their 24-3 victory over the Giants

Seattle’s defense shows up big as the Seahawks head into their bye on a three-game winning streak.

Monroe junior receiver Aaron Clifton checks for defenders while taking a long reception to the house against Mountlake Terrace on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep football power rankings after Week 5

Here are our top 8 local teams after all the action from Thursday and Friday.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 25-30

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 25-30. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Silvertips name leadership group, but no captain yet

Everett lists Ty Gibson, Kaden Hammell, Ben Hemmerling and Austin Roest as alternate captains, but will wait to assign the “C”.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep roundup for Monday, Oct. 2

Prep roundup for Monday, Oct. 2: (Not for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 6 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington reclaims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Most Read