04/21/12 10:09 PM ET
Ryan ignores talk about call, praises Humber
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Not the full-count slider by White Sox starter Philip Humber that the Mariners shortstop lunged at and was called out on when catcher A.J. Pierzynski threw him out to end the 21st perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball on Saturday at Safeco Field.
No, that pitch might have been a tad unexpected.
What Ryan did anticipate was a deluge of questions by reporters in the clubhouse following the Mariners' 4-0 loss. Ryan check-swung at a 3-2 offspeed offering and was ruled by home-plate umpire Brian Runge to have gone too far. Ryan reacted angrily at the call as the ball skirted away from Pierzynski. Ryan didn't run, and Pierzynski threw him out with ease to first baseman Paul Konerko, sparking a Chicago celebration on the field.
So it wasn't surprising that Ryan was waiting for the questions in a nearly empty Seattle clubhouse and had carefully plotted out his strategy for avoiding any controversy with his responses.
"I don't even want to talk about [the call]," Ryan said. "I will say that was a pretty outstanding game [Humber] threw. He had his slider working, obviously, and pounded the zone, kept his pitch count down. Pretty outstanding stuff from him today."
Then Ryan looked around at the reporters surrounding him in silence.
"Everyone wants to talk about the check swing, huh?" he said.
Ryan didn't bite, preferring to praise Humber while bemoaning the fact that his team couldn't get anything going. It was an odd circumstance since Ryan was called in to pinch-hit for Munenori Kawasaki, who had started the game at shortstop, and only had one at-bat, cold off the bench, to try to prevent history.
"I was so fired up to get the opportunity, get the chance to wreck it," Ryan said. "My heart might have been pounding harder than his was. You've got to want that opportunity.
"I've been in that situation a few times ... not quite in the ninth with two outs or anything, but I think that's when you see the best out of both guys. You'll see that guy scrapping at the plate, and you'll see the guy on the bump giving his A-plus-plus stuff. It's going to get tougher because the closer they get, the more borderline [calls] might go his way kind of thing, because that's just the way things go. That's why I wanted to be aggressive, and he just made pitches. I wasn't the only one."
Upon releasing the final pitch, a full-count slider, Humber appeared to chide himself for throwing one out of the strike zone.
"That's way outside, for one thing," Humber said he remembered thinking upon letting it go. "Hopefully, don't go to the backstop. Really, it's hard to say. Just trying to make a good pitch, and like I said, I felt like I jerked it a little bit. But in a situation like that, guys are anxious. I've been in a dugout when a team's getting no-hit. Batters tend to get a little more anxious when they get deeper into the game like that, so you get some swings at some pitches you normally wouldn't get swings at."
When asked if he thought the pitch was ball four, Ryan nodded.
"It was, it was, but ... I don't want to finish that [thought]," Ryan said. "In that situation, you have to be a little more aggressive to anything around the plate. That's just the way it's going to be. The fans want to see it, so anything that's kind of gray, you're going to have to get a piece of.
"But I'm going to stay on the heater there. I don't want to get beat by a fastball in that position, and it takes a lot of guts to make that pitch. Hats off to A.J. and, of course, Humber."
Elsewhere in the home clubhouse, the Mariners gave props to Humber -- who threw only 96 pitches -- despite their disappointment.
"You've just got to put up good ABs," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "You've got to make him work a little bit harder than what we did today. It was evident by the pitch count, but it was also more evident to me by the way we mishit so many balls.
"He did a great job of staying on the plate. He was in and out, he worked up and down when he needed to and pitched a great ballgame."
And even Ryan could agree with that.
"I hope we come [ticked] off tomorrow," Ryan said. "You can't go up there and try to get hits or make hits. Not that that's what we were trying to do, but we just have to come back angry, chip on our shoulder, out with something to prove.
"The best way to learn is through failure, and we failed today, but hopefully we'll take better at-bats tomorrow and have a better approach and be better for it."