First of all, I realized after the fact that I had accidentally posted the lineups, pre-game notes and game thread in the Hot Stone League blog instead of the Mariner blog. Sorry about that. Hope everyone found them. If not, here’s the post about Eric Wedge visiting the team before the game.
That was still a big topic of conversation after the Mariners’ 6-4 victory over the Twins. Michael Saunders was eloquent in talking about the impact of Wedge’s appearance.
“From when we saw him being helped off the field until now, it’s night and day,’’ Saunders said. “It was a huge morale boost. When he came in and told us he was OK, I think a lot of weight was lifted off our shoulders, because he’s the captain of the ship.
“We’re all really, really concerned about him. First and foremost, it’s about health and family before baseball. Our thoughts were definitely with him, and to see him come in and give us a little pump-up speech like he did was great.
“To actually see him and see his attitude — his shoulders are back, his head’s held high. He’s a big, strong man. It was an extreme morale boost.”
And Nick Franklin added, ““It was awesome. He looked strong. He looked like he was ready to go. I thought he was ready for the game today. A lot of guys were happy to see him. He gave us a little pep talk, which always helps.”
Franklin must have taken those words to heart, because he had a great game with a single, two homers and four RBIs. He leads all American League rookies with 10 homers and 32 runs batted in, despite not making his major-league debut until May 27. Franklin’s.492 slugging percentage trails only the .535 of Raul Ibanez, which begs the question of how such a slight frame generates so much power.
“Bat speed,’’ said acting manager Robby Thompson. “He hits through the ball, he back-spins balls, and that’s where he gets his carry. He’s small, but he’s a strong kid.”
While Franklin was getting three hits from the No. 2 spot in the order, leadoff man and fellow rookie Brad Miller reached base three times with two singles and a walk. As the capper, Miller and Franklin teamed on a beautiful double play in the ninth to stem a potential Twins’ rally against close Tom Wilhelmsen, who racked up his 24th save.
“They’ve sparked us up the middle defensively, they’ve sparked us at the top of the order,’’ Thompson said of Franklin and Miller. “It’s not often you see a couple of guys come up from Triple-A and go one-two in the order in a short period of time. Obviously, they’re both deserving of that, and they’ve done a great job for us.”
Miller said he and Franklin “are each other’s biggest fans. I think we’re having fun. That’s the No. 1 thing. We’re both excited to be here, and that’s our style of play, and our personalities. We want to get out there and compete and get things going. I know we feed off each other.”
Added Franklin, “We both have energy. We both have the fire. He’s excited, he’s pumped, just as anyone else on the team. It’s good. We communicate well.”
The M’s got a big boost from reliever Danny Farquhar, who struck out five in two scoreless innings, and a huge defensive play from right fielder Endy Chavez, who robbed Chris Colabello of a potential three-run homer with a leaping catch in the third.
Chavez’s catch was a do-over of a nearly identical effort in the second, but that time Ryan Doumit’s drive popped out of his glove for a double. Colabello followed with a two-run homer.
“I had it,’’ Chavez said of the Doumit ball. “I think it wasn’t farther than the second one, but the problem was I hit the fence first, and I lost the ball. I didn’t see it anymore. It hit my glove, but it wasn’t at the right point. I just had to make my adjustment from the first one, and time the ball to make the jump and the catch.”
In other news, outfielder Michael Morse, on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma, was removed from the Rainiers lineup during batting practice on Sunday and shook hands with teammates before departing. It was a likely precursor to his return to the Mariners for their upcoming road trip, which beings Tuesday in Boston.
Morse hit .250 (6-for-24) with one homer in six games with the Rainiers. He’s been on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain since June 22. A roster spot will have to be cleared for Morse’s return. Barring a trade or undisclosed injury, it would seem Jason Bay is most vulnerable.