Nick Franklin's 2 home runs, stellar defense lift Seattle Mariners to 6-4 win over Minnesota Twins

Staff writerJuly 28, 2013 

SEATTLE — Nick Franklin threw his arms up, kicked his legs and turned loose a shout.

It was a pose akin to Felix Hernandez’s celebration when the ace finished his perfect game in 2012, immortalizing the word “Felixing.” 

Franklin’s display was an extrapolation born of having feigned the move so many times before when clowning around.

He had good reason for the fervor. Franklin hit two homers and converted a scintillating ninth-inning double play Sunday at Safeco Field in the Mariners’ 6-4 split-earning win over the Minnesota Twins.

Franklin, who leads American League rookies in home runs (10) and RBI (32), circled the bases calmly after his three-run homer in the fourth inning and a solo shot in the seventh.

But it was the double play in the ninth with shortstop and friend Brad Miller that prompted Franklin’s outburst.

Miller galloped to his left to scoop up a grounder heading toward center field, then flipped the ball to Franklin. The second baseman contorted his body to throw to first base with little help from his legs for the second out, earning Franklin a brief celebration. 

“It was a backwards throw just to feed me,” Franklin said. “When I saw the ball up the middle, I know (Miller) has a lot of range, (and) when he got to it, I was just pumped.”

Franklin’s two homers brought him to a total of six for the month of July despite his moderate build. Interim Mariners manager Robby Thompson said Franklin’s bat speed and ability to get backspin on the ball after contact leads to his power.

“He’s small, but he’s a strong kid,” Thompson said.

That strength has pushed Franklin into the American League Rookie of the Year conversation. The Mariners second baseman has only been in the majors since May 27, yet is producing at such a potent level he’s part of a light AL Rookie of the Year race.

Franklin said he’s not paying any attention to end-of-the-year statistical awards.

“No, not really,” he said. “Honestly, I try to stay away from stats, keep my nose clean, not look into that. 

“(The) more you look into it, the more you try to do better, which is something you don’t want to try to do. My job is to help the ballclub win.”

He did plenty of that Sunday, going 3-for-4 at the plate including the two home runs. It was enough to counter another middling outing from starter Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 7.71 ERA).

Ramirez left after allowing two runs in the sixth and the Mariners slightly ahead 5-4. In his third outing this season, he allowed four earned runs in his six innings, a total that would have swelled if not for Endy Chavez.

Chavez leaped in front of the right-field wall in the second inning as Ryan Doumit’s fly ball came down. The ball bounced around in Chavez’s glove before gently popping out, bouncing off the yellow line atop the wall and casually back into play. Doumit ended up with a double.

“I lost the ball,” Chavez said. “I didn’t see it anymore, I just felt it hit my glove but it wasn’t in the right part of the glove.”

 The next batter, Chris Colabello, homered.

In the third, Colabello — who hit his first career homer Friday — smacked a fly ball to right with two runners on. This time, Chavez had all the particulars figured out and stole a three-run homer from Colabello.

“I had to do my adjustment from the first one; make sure I get on the fence first,” Chavez said.

Michael Saunders’ seventh home run of the year landed to the left of the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe in the Mariners’ four-run fourth. A nagging hamstring had limited Saunders’ playing time the past few days.

Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for his 24th save. He allowed a bunt single before Franklin and Miller turned two and the tide of the inning.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com 

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