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August 6, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Growing pains for Mariners rookies

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

It was just an ugly game all the way around tonight as the Mariners continued their slide — nine losses in 13 games — that is rapidly erasing the good vibes from their eight-game losing streak.

Felix Hernandez was not particularly sharp in the 7-2 loss to Toronto, though obviously he received little help from his defense. The Mariners committed four errors, Hernandez gave up nine hits in just five innings, and the Seattle offense was blanked until the seventh — not a winning formula.

Acting manager Robby Thompson had some interesting comments about the peaks and valleys of Seattle’s young infielders, Nick Franklin and Brad Miller. Everyone has been rightly excited about them at various points in their brief big-league tenure, but it was naive to think it was going to be all smooth. We all need to take a deep breathe and remember they are 22 and 23, respectively, with a combined 92 games in the majors. There’s bound to be bumps.

Franklin, riding an 0-for-24 slump, was back in the lineup after two days off. Now he’s got an 0-for-27 slump after going 0-for-3 (with two strikeouts and a walk).

“You hope he comes right out of it, but you stick with him,” Thompson said. “That’s part of the growing pains of a young player coming up is learning how to deal with the failure of it. You go into slumps, and you’ve got to fight your way out of it. This is where he’s got to maintain and keep grinding it out and stay positive.

“He’ll get it back soon. Until then, if he’s not getting hits, he should be out there taking hits away, or try to, anyway. You can’t just throw in the towel, which he’s not. But you still have to play the game. He’ll fight his way out of it.”

Miller contributed two hits, including a two-run triple in the seventh for the Mariners’ only runs. But he committed a costly error in the fourth when he threw wildly to second trying for a force on a slow roller by Brett Lawrie.

“His best play was probably to go to first base,” Thompson said. “It was a very difficult play to make to come in that hard, especially with (Colby) Rasmus at first. I think if he was to do that over again, he’d want to pick it up and get the out at first base. He tried to do a little too much.”

“I was just trying to make a play, trying to be aggressive,” Miller said.

Miller now has six errors in 34 games as he adjusts to life in the major leagues.

“It’s still early,” Thompson said. “Yeah, there’s been some balls and plays he feels he should have made. I’m not going to sit here and say the game is speeding up on him. He moved through the system rather quickly and he’s up here. It’s kind of youth now that’s showing a little bit. All this experience he and Franklin are getting, offensively and defensively, they’re only going to get better from it.”

In the meantime, the process en route to being a finished product is not always going to be pleasant to watch for Mariner fans. But it’s something virtually every young player goes through.

 

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