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August 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Suddenly streaking Mariners gaining a good vibe

(Charlie Furbush worked five strong innings on Wednesday. Photo by Associated Press).
It may well be temporary, but the Mariners are on something of a roll. Their 7-4 win over Oakland on Wednesday completed their first three-game home sweep since last June against the Reds. It was their fifth win in seven games since the end of the 17-game losing streak in New York. It pulled them within a half game of getting out of last place at the expense of the A’s, whose manager, Bob Melvin, said after this one: “I don’t know. I don’t have an explanation. As a team, we better be upset about the way we played here.”

Conversely, the Mariners have a right to be pleased. It’s not about wins and losses so much anymore. It’s about finding the right combination of players moving forward. The M’s can now begin to have some hope that they’ve unearthed a couple of keepers in the Fister trade. Casper Wells continues to impress me with his all-around play. He had two RBI singles and stole a base today. In his four games with the Mariners, he’s 6-for-15 (.400) with two runs, a homer and four RBIs. Here’s what Eric Wedge said about Wells:
“He battles. I’ve been very impressed with him in the outfield. Very impressed with his athleticism, his quickness in the outfield. He runs the bases with some quickness as well. He hit a home run yesterday, fought through some at-bats a couple different times. He sticks his nose in there with two strikes. That base hit to right field was a big knock for us. He battles through at-bat, so we like to see that.”
And Wells seems genuinely excited about his new situation and the chance he’s being given to play every day.
“It definitely helps a lot. You don’t as much pressure on yourself for each at-bat, or each time out there. Not that I was doing that in Detroit, but I think there was only one time I played consecutive games, and that was right before the All-Star break. I was playing once, and then I wouldn’t play for a couple of days.
“It’s nice to get in there and keep working. I can work on my approach and get a solid approach at the plate. I’m still not totally there, but I’m feeling comfortable with the team and all the guys. I feel I’m contributing pretty well, and we’re getting some wins, which is good.”
Wells likes the vibe he’s observing here as well.
“They’re great ballplayers,” he said. “It seems like some kind of chemistry is building within the team, just from what I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Everyone’s feeding off each other.”
The other newest Mariner by way of Detroit, Charlie Furbush, was outstanding in his first Mariner start. He retired the first 13 batters he faced, and Greg Halman had a chance to catch the drive off the top of the wall by Conor Jackson in the fifth that became Oakland’s first hit,a double. Furbush’s line (five innings, two hits, one run, three strikeouts, no walks) is all the Mariners could have hoped for, and more.
“He threw the ball great,” Wedge said. “Obviously, he’s in the process of getting built back up pitch count-wise. He was efficeient and used all his pitches. Trusted his fastball, trusted his stuff in general. Had a good tempo. There were a lot of good things out there.”
Furbush was on a strict pitch count of 60 to 65 (he wound up with 62). Yes, he’ll get more starts.
“We’re going to keep him in the rotation for a while,” Wedge said. “Like I mentioned before, to see him for an inning here or an inning there or a couple of innings, that’s fine. But he’s started for all of his career with the exception of this year. We’re giving him a chance to come over here and pitch and start for us. It allows him to settle in and it allows us take a good look at him.”
One final thing: Jack Wilson deserves a plaudit for his play at third base, the first time he’s played there in his career. Wedge was forced into that move partly by the injury to Chone Figgins, but if enhances Wilson’s trade value, so much the better for the Mariners. He made two excellent diving plays and also did a great job putting down the tag when Franklin Gutierrez gunned down Scott Sizemore at third to get Furbush out of a jam in the fifth.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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