Franklin homers twice in Mariners' 7-1 win
“It just can’t happen anymore,” he said Saturday after lasting just 52⁄3 innings against the Rangers. “I have to go out there and do something about it.”
He did so on Thursday afternoon against San Diego, returning to his all-star form in the Mariners’ 7-1 win at Petco Park. Hernandez pitched eight strong innings, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out six and walking three.
“(Hernandez) stayed in his delivery better, executed pitches, had good stuff and controlled the ballgame, which is what we want our guys to do,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I thought he was really good out there.”
While Hernandez dominated the mound, Mariners rookie second baseman Nick Franklin added some thunder to the offense. Just four games into his big league career, he had a game to remember, hitting two solo home runs.
Franklin hit the first home run of his promising big-league career in the sixth inning. A day after notching his first career hit, he belted the ball 412 feet to center field off of Padres starter Andrew Cashner to push the Seattle lead to 4-1. Petco is not a hitter friendly park and Franklin certainly didn’t act like he knew it was gone off the bat.
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I thought the center fielder was going to catch it.”
In the eighth inning, Franklin launched another solo blast to right field off of reliever Tim Stauffer.
“I felt the second one a little better and felt that was going to have a better chance to get out,” Franklin said.
At 22 years and 89 days old, Franklin became the seventh youngest Mariners player to have a multi-homer game. He joins Kenji Johjima (June 24, 2006) and Ben Johnson (August 16, 2006) as the only rookies to record multi-homer games at Petco Park.
“Wow, big day for Nick,” 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. It was an impressive day by Nick.
Not that Franklin is lacking in big-league confidence.
“He’s a confident young man,” Wedge said. “You have to like that. He comes to the ballpark ready to play. He’s up there hunting the baseball. He’s ready for the ball at second base.”
In all the Mariners hit five homers — the most given up in one game at Petco this season. Also homering were Kendrys Morales (solo, second inning); Brendan Ryan (solo, third inning) and Endy Chavez (two-run shot in the seventh).
“This is what we’re looking for right here,” Wedge said. “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.”
All that run support helped the Mariners end a brief two-game losing streak and the personal two-game skid for Hernandez.
“Coming off my two bad outings, my mind was, you’ve got to throw a good game,” said Hernandez, who didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings and the only runner that reached was via a walk. “Today I just needed to step up. I was coming from two struggling outings and I had to go out there and throw good pitches.
“That’s what I did today and we played unbelievable defense back there.”
The most stunning defensive play came in the third inning.
Hernandez walked lead-off batter Alexi Amarista, who later scored on Carlos Quentin’s sacrifice fly to cut the Mariners’ lead to 3-1. With runners on first and second and one out, Jedd Gyorko hit a hard ground ball up the middle that seemed like a sure single.
Instead, shortstop Brendan Ryan made a marvelous diving stop. From the ground, Ryan flipped the ball out of his glove to second baseman Nick Franklin, who fired to first for a double play.
“That helped a lot,” said Hernandez, who screamed with joy after the play. “You know Brendan always helps. He’s one of the best out there. He’s unbelievable.”
The game could have easily been 3-2 and Hernandez could have found more trouble, instead they were out of the inning.
“That’s making a play early in the game that gets lost as the game plays out, but early in the game that’s a difference maker,” Wedge said. “Felix was battling a little bit that inning; for Brendan to make that play, that was huge for us.”
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