Veteran outfielder Endy Chavez offers up a simple formula for performing well in a pinch:
Be prepared and know the situation.
“I think it helps that I’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Chavez, a 36-year-old completing his 13th big league season.
“I know not to try to do too much when I’m a pinch-hitter. It’s a whole different story from when you’re playing the complete game.”
Chavez improved to 6-for-12 this season as a pinch-hitter when he delivered a leadoff single in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Oakland. The rest of the Mariners are a combined 10-for-64.
“I watch the game and follow the situation,” Chavez said. “I’m trying to think along with Lloyd (McClendon) as a manager. I’ll be thinking, ‘At this point in the game, Lloyd might do this.’
“I don’t wait for him to tell me to get ready. By the fifth or sixth inning, I’ll start getting loose. Stretching. Hitting in the (indoor) cage. Then when he needs me, I’m ready, and I know what’s going on in the game.
“And I’ve been lucky, too.”
If so, Chavez has been lucky throughout his career: a .285 average in 156 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.
Only two American League players prior to Monday’s game had more pinch hits this season than Chavez: Baltimore’s Delmon Young (9-for-19) and Chicago’s Paul Konerko (8-for-26).
Chavez said his approach varies according to the situation.
“On Sunday, they put me up as the leadoff hitter,” he said. “We needed men on base. So I wanted to make the pitcher work and try to get on base for the next guy.
“Other times, it’s an RBI situation, and I’m going to be more aggressive if they throw me my pitch at the beginning of my at-bat. With two strikes, I just try to make contact, play pepper and put the ball in play.”
It was take two Monday for left fielder Dustin Ackley in attempting to shake off the limitations of a sore left ankle.
Ackley returned to the starting lineup after missing two games. He missed four games after exiting a Sept. 6 game at Texas before playing seven innings in last Friday’s victory over Oakland.
“The last couple of days,” he said, “it’s felt really good. I’ve been able to get loose in case I had to come in. I was ready. The last two days were the best it’s felt in a long time.”
McClendon put Ackley back in the lineup Monday after watching him perform in batting practice. Particularly, McClendon wanted to see whether Ackley could pivot on his back foot.
“His BP was cleaner,” McClendon said. “It was better. He was hitting off his backside (foot). He was not not hitting flat-footed.”
Ackley got off to a slow start this season but is batting .286 with seven homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games since the All-Star break. His overall numbers are 11 homers, 60 RBIs and a .249 average in 131 games.
And coincidence or not, the Mariners lost five of the six games he missed since the injury forced him to the sidelines.
LET’S JUST PLAY NINE
The Mariners don’t like extra innings — and, in a tight race, it could be what keeps them from reaching the postseason.
Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Oakland in 10 innings dropped the Mariners to 3-7 this season when games go to bonus frames. Only Texas, at 2-5, has a worse winning percentage than the Mariners in extra innings.
Among the other primary wild-card contenders: Oakland is 12-8, Detroit is 6-6, and Kansas City is 5-6.
This is not a new trend for the Mariners. They are 14-32 in extra innings over the last three years. Some perspective: If a club played at that 14-32 pace over an entire season, it would finish 49-113.
ZEROES ADDING UP
The Mariners set a dubious franchise record Sunday in suffering a 4-0 loss to Oakland at Safeco Stadium — it marked the 17th time this season they’ve suffered a shutout loss.
The previous record was 16 in 2011.
Put another way: The Mariners are 29 games over .500 this season, at 80-51, when they simply manage to score.
Ex-Mariners infielder Nick Franklin was called up Monday by Tampa Bay. Franklin batted .210 in 27 games at Triple-A Durham after the July 31 three-way trade that brought outfielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners from Detroit…The Mariners played their 149th game Monday and used their 132nd different lineup. They have not used any single lineup more than four times…The Mariners have winning records this season against all three of their remaining opponents: 7-5 against the Angels (before Monday), Houston (9-7) and Toronto (3-0).
It was three years ago Tuesday — Sept. 16, 2011 — that rookie right-hander Blake Beavan pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over Texas at Safeco Field.
Brandon League completed the shutout with a scoreless ninth. The Rangers managed just four hits against Beavan, including two by Endy Chavez, who played center field.
Beavan became the first Mariners rookie to pitch eight shutout innings since Felix Hernandez in 2005.
The Mariners and Angels continue their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Angel Stadium. Lefty Roenis Elias (10-12, 3.81 ERA) will oppose Los Angeles right-hander Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.80).
Root Sports will televise the game.
The Mariners’ 11-game trip consists of four games in Anaheim, three in Houston and four in Toronto before a season-ending, three-game homestand from Sept. 26-28 against the Angels.