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May 30, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Nick Franklin breaks out with two HRs

Photo by Getty Images

Nick Franklin is congratulated after his sixth-inning solo home run. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Mariners had a lot of good things happen today in their 7-1 win over the Padres, including a great bounce-back effort from Felix Hernandez and one of the most hellacious double-plays you’ll ever see, started by Brendan Ryan (who, as an aside, keeps reminding us, or maybe I should say me, why he has to stay in the Mariners lineup even when hitting in the low 200s. Now, obviously, .130 is unacceptable, and under .200 is debatable, but he’s just so brilliant in the field, and so valuable on defense, that even a modicum of offense swings the balance his direction. And when he’s hitting like he has over his last 14 games (.340/.377/.480 before today, a game which featured a Ryan home run, well, he’s an extremely valuable commodity).

This one belonged to rookie Nick Franklin, however. I don’t want to put him in the Hall of Fame quite yet but considering the hype that preceded him — similar to just about every Mariners’ prospect as they work their way up to the major leagues — having some early success should ease the pressure considerably. At least temporarily, anyway.

A day after banging out his first career hit, Franklin notched his first homer in the fifth inning off Padres starter Andrew Cashner. And then, for good measure, he added a second homer in the eighth, making him the fastest Mariner ever to achieve a two-homer game at the start of their career. Jose Cruz Jr. had done it in his sixth game in 1997.

“Wow. Big day for Nick,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Good for him. He hit a couple of balls really good. You can see, even in the short period of time he’s been here, he’s a little more comfortable, gaining some confidence.”

The 22-year-old Franklin noted before the game that his nerves had been lessening by the day since his callup on Monday to replace Dustin Ackley on the roster. And a day like Thursday’s, which also included some sharp defense at second base, is bound to accelerate the adjustment period.

“I’m still getting my feet wet, and I’m enjoying every bit of it,’’ he said. “Just trying to stay relaxed and hopefully I can help the team and contribute to wins.”

Franklin’s first homer went out to right-center, but just barely. It landed in the sandy beach area near the Mariners bullpen and was retrieved for Franklin’s trophy case by bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.

“I thought the center fielder was going to catch it,’’ Franklin said. “The second one felt a little better and I felt that was going to have a better chance to go out.”

The Mariners had five homers in the game, the others coming from Kendrys Morales, Brendan Ryan and Endy Chavez.  When Ryan hit a towering drive down the left-field line in the third inning, he thought little of it. He was sure the ball was going to hook out of play. But lo and behold, it made it just inside the foul pole, and just beyond the wall, for his second homer of the season.

“I don’t even know who to describe that one,’’ Ryan said. “On that pitch, it was a changeup in and I got the barrel to it. And it was like, whack, I hit it, and I was starting to prepare for the next pitch.

“I was 102 percent for sure it was a foul. I don’t know what happened, if the wind brought it back, or if the spin did it, I don’t know what happened. But that was the least expected, most awesome result I could ever not imagine.”

Wedge was pleased with the Mariners’ effort in every facet of Thursday’s game, particularly on offense.

“This is what we’re looking for right here. You don’t expect to hit four or five home runs, but the type of at-bats we had, and hitting the ball hard, playing a full game like we did – this is it. This is what we’re shooting to do on a regular basis.

“It’s not going to be that kind of score every time, but this is the way you want to compete at home plate. We’ve got some guys I feel are headed in the right direction, some guys that are still trying to find it. We’re a little bit banged up, so it’s nice to see these guys step up.”

At this point, with just with a 23-31 record, the Mariners are going to need a lot of games like this to make a dent in their otherwise greatly disappointing showing so far this season. Nick Franklin at least provided a nice diversion, and it will be interesting to watch how he progresses through his rookie season.



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