If Nick Franklin keeps this up, he’s bound to get some consideration for American League Rookie of the Year. Franklin busted two more home runs and matched his career high with four RBIs as the Mariners, down 2-0, broke out of an offensive dither for a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins Sunday at Safeco Field. The Mariners split the four-game series ahead of a six-game road swing through Boston and Baltimore.
The win also gave Seattle (50-55) its 50th of the season, starter Erasmo Ramirez his second and put an end to a two-game losing streak. Seattle, which didn’t win 50 last year until Aug. 1 at Toronto, has won 10 of 14, is 7-3 since the All-Star break and 15-8 in July. It’s Seattle’s first 15-win month since August 2012.
In addition to Franklin’s bombs, a three-run shot in the fourth and a solo blast in the seventh, Michael Saunders hit a home run that sailed an estimated 428 feet. Franklin’s second homer — the second multi-homer game of his career — virtually assured Ramirez’s second win in three starts since his recall from AAA Tacoma.
After Danny Farquhar threw a scoreless eighth, Tom Wilhelmsen collected his 24th save in 29 chances, in large part due to a nifty double play. After Minnesota’s Aaron Hicks bunted his way aboard to open the ninth, Pedro Florimon slapped a ball right up the middle that Brad Miller snatched in the hole. He flipped it backhanded to Franklin for the force at second. He fired to first to get Florimon by a step. Wilhelmsen then induced Jamey Carroll into a game-ending ground ball.
After Ryan Doumit doubled to open the second, Chris Colabello homered off Ramirez to center on an 0-0 count, giving Minnesota 2-0 lead.
The Mariners placed runners on the corners with one out in the third on back-to-back singles by Miller and Franklin, and Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly brought home Miller to slice Minnesota’s lead to 2-1.
An inning later, Saunders launched his seventh homer to tie. Franklin followed with a three-run shot, finally breaking Seattle out of its batting malaise and into a 5-2 lead. Franklin’s homer was his ninth.
Prior to that outburst, the Mariners hadn’t done much of anything offensively in the series since Thursday. After scoring six runs in the second inning of that contest, an uprising fueled by a Franklin homer, the Mariners tallied only four runs over their next 28 innings.
Ramirez was in a jam in the sixth when he walked Doumit on a full count, then issued back-to-back singles to Colabello and Clete Thomas, the latter’s blow plating Doumit to make it 5-3. Hicks’ sacrifice fly cut Seattle’s lead to 5-4.
That ended Ramirez’s day. He worked 6.0 innings, allowed four runs on seven hits, fanned six and walked two, throwing 65 of 101 pitches for strikes.
Franklin’s solo homer in the seventh was his 10th of the season and his second multi-homer game (May 30 at San Diego). Franklin’s four RBIs also matched his career high, set July 21 against Houston.
The Mariners are off Monday and travel to Boston for a three-game series at Fenway Park Tuesday. LHP Joe Saunders (9-9, 4.48) will work for Seattle opposite RHP Brandon Workman (0-1, 4.40). The Mariners play three in Baltimore Friday-Sunday and then return to Safeco Field for a trio against the Toronto Blue Jays (Aug. 5-7).
NOTES: Manager Eric Wedge met with the team privately before Sunday’s game, the first time he has addressed them since suffering a mild stroke last Monday. “It meant a lot to to him and to all of us,” said interim manager Robby Thompson. “Seeing him standing tall and strong and walking around address everyone was good.” Wedge will not accompany the team on the trip. The Mariners say they do not have a timetable for his return to the dugout . . . Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34) and Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87) have combined to go 21-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 44 starts. Seattle is one of three American League teams (also Detroit, Tampa) with three 10-game winners . . . Probables for the Boston series Wednesday and Thursday: LHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87) vs. John Lackey (7-8, 3.19), and RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.24).