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August 17, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Mariners 4, Orioles 0: Luke French and Matt Tuiasosopo make most of opportunities

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Sorry that the first post-game blog entry did not go up. I thought I’d sent it, but it turns out it did not run. So, here is the extended entry.
That was quite the showing by Luke French and Matt Tuiasosopo tonight, two guys who do have a lot to show the M’s when it comes to securing a roster spot in 2011. French seemed the forgotten man in Class AAA despite his 11-3 record and 2.94 ERA while Tuiasosopo had just 71 at-bats with the M’s and a .155 average coming in.
French took a no-hitter into the sixth before Josh Bell broke it up with one out. But he tossed 7 2/3 innings of three-hit before Brandon League notched the final three outs.
And that was a huge three-run homer in the ninth by Matt Tuiasosopo to take some of the pressure off League. Tuiasosopo drove in all four runs tonight with the homer and a double.
“Playing here and there only a few times a week, it’s tough,” Tuiasosopo said. “Right now, that’s the challenge. Just trusting it. You do the hard work every day in batting practice. You do all the defensive work. And when the game starts, just go play. Play your game. Tonight, I was able to do that. Just be loose and play my game, go out there, have fun and contribute.”
It hasn’t been an easy adjustment. Tuiasosopo really has not gotten the playing time.
His manager, Daren Brown, who had him extensively in AAA, said he’s like to get him some more at-bats. But he’d also like to see Tuiasosopo step up and start doing the things he did in Tacoma.
“Tonight would make you think that he could,” Brown said. “I’ve seen him swing the bat well in Tacoma. We’ve got to project guys at what they can be. He’s got a chance to become a good offensive player from what we’ve seen at the level below this, but he’s yet to show it on a consistent basis here. And that’s what it’s about up here. You’ve got to be able to do it every day.”
Indeed it is.

Tuiasosopo had to make a quick adjustment tonight. Ryan Langerhans came down with a migraine in BP and it had yet to improve 20 minutes before gametime. That’s when Tuiasosopo knew for sure he’d be playing.
“When I’m not playing, I’m working a lot more at the other positions,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of throwing. I actually got in a pretty hard workout today in the gym and I actually don’t work out on days I play. So, it was just one of those days where you just go out and have a good day.”
I asked Brown whether Tuiasosopo’s big night would at least guarantee him more of those at-bats tomorrow.
“You would think so, though (Josh) Bard didn’t,” he said, referring to the catcher not having played since getting four hits and a grand slam Saturday in Cleveland. “That’s a nice problem to have, trying to get everybody into the lineup that you’d like to.”
Tough gig for players, though. No, the majors are not easy.
French has been able to transition his AAA success over to the majors in limited opportunities. He’s gone at least six innings in his four starts since Aug. 1 and allowed four runs or fewer each time. He allowed one run two starts ago and now zero tonight.
He said he realized he hadn’t given up any hits around the fourth or fifth inning, but tried not to make anything more of it.
“You can’t really worry about that,” French said. “My mentality is, it’s zero-zero in the first all the time.”
French know he’s being evaluated. But he tries not to go into things with the mindset that this is a do-or-die audition for the 2011 rotation.
“I’m not really going to worry about that,” French said. “If that becomes the case, then great. All I can do is come out here and do my best. Any time you get to play up here, it’s a great big opportunity and fun. But you can’t really worry about that.”
Both guys seemed to do a pretty good job of just relaxing and not worrying about it. Sounds like a plan to me.



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