GAME: Twins (45-56, -12.0 GB,) at Mariners (49-55, 3rd, AL West, -12.0 GB). GAME #: 105. SERIES: 4th of 4 games. MEETING: 7th (Twins lead 4-2). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Twins W 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Three days ago, Nick Franklin swatted a two-run homer in the second inning against Minnesota that not only gave him eight for the season, but placed him in some rare company. In his 49th game, Franklin became the second American League second baseman in the past 75 years to hit at least eight homers in the first 50 games of a career.
Franklin joined Jason Kipnis (10 home runs for Cleveland in his first 50 in 2012) in the club, and only second baseman to hit more in 50 games was future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon — 11 for the 1938 Yankees.
Franklin didn’t homer Friday in his 50th contest, but he drove in Seattle’s go-ahead run against the Twins that staked Felix Hernandez to a 1-0 lead. Saturday, neither he nor the Mariners could generate any offense against Minnesota in a 4-0 loss at Safeco Field, but Franklin, since his major league debut May 27, has driven in 28 runs, most among American League rookies, and his seven go-ahead RBIs are tied with Raul Ibanez for the team lead.
Production from Franklin and even Dustin Ackley — batting .321 (9-for-28) since the All-Star break, including a pair of three-hit games — has helped put the Mariners into position for a run at a .500 or winning record when, a month ago, that seemed well out of reach.
RHP Erasmo Ramirez will be called upon to do his bit for the cause Sunday, when the teams wrap up the series at Safeco Field. Ramirez, awful in his first start with a 13.50 ERA, recorded a jittery win in his second outing and Sunday will face Kyle Gibson, a rookie the Mariners have never seen. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 8.71 ERA, 1.93 WHIP)
The 23-year-old Ramirez, a Nicaragua native in his second major league season and second with Seattle, will make his third start and first against the Twins. After a less-than-elegant return to the majors July 11 (13.50 ERA, 7 earned runs allowed), Ramirez settled down in his last start and pitched effectively for 5.2 innings and collected the victory.
- LAST START: July 23 vs. Cleveland, won 4-3; 3 earned runs on 8 hits in 5.2 innings; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 101 pitches, 63 for strikes.
- LAST VS. TWINS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. TWINS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 1-2, 4.35 ERA in 9 games, including 6 starts, in 39.1 innings; 32 strikeouts, 10 walks, 3 home runs, 1.04 WHIP.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Ramirez has never faced a member of the Minnesota roster.
TWINS: RHP Kyle Gibson (2-2, 5.72 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
The 25-year-old Gibson, a Greenfield, IN., native in his first major league season (debut June 29), will make his third start and first against the Mariners. Prior to his call up from AAA Rochester, Gibson went 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 92.2 innings for the Red Wings. Gibson made his first start June 20 and defeated Kansas City 6-2, allowing two earned runs in 6.0 innings. He didn’t pick up his second win until July 14 and is coming off a no-decision against the Angels.
- LAST START: July 23 at Anaheim, took a no-decision in Minnesota’s 10-3 win; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 6.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 home runs, 94 pitches, 53 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Gibson has never faced a member of the current Seattle roster.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Cleveland (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. Minnesota (Friday-Monday). The Mariners are off Monday, then begin a six-game road series at Boston and Baltimore.
- Seattle’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota Saturday was its seventh blanking of the season (the Mariners have 10 shutouts).
- Seattle starters Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez and Aaron Harang have held opponents to just two runs over the past 20 innings, but have just one win to show for it.
- Harang is 3-3 with a 3.24 ERA in his past eight starts. He’s allowed three runs or less in seven of the eight.
- Kyle Seager is hitting .398 in July with 20 runs scored, including five home runs.
- The Mariners Saturday recalled RHP Brandon Maurer from AAA Tacoma and optioned RHP Hector Noesi to the Rainiers. Maurer will be making his second stint with the club after starting the season in the rotation. In 10 starts, he went 2-7, 6.93. In 10 starts in Tacoma since, he’s gone 3-4, 5.21. Noesi is 0-1, 5.64 in three stints with the Mariners.
- When Humberto Quintero started behind the plate Saturday, he became the Mariners’ seventh catcher this season. The list includes Jesus Montero (optioned) and Kelly Shoppach (designated), Jesus Sucre (injured), Henry Blanco (active), Mike Zunino (DL) and Brandon Bantz (optioned).
|7/28||Sun||vs. Minn||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-0) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (2-2)|
|7/30||Tue||at Bos||LHP Joe Saunders (9-9) vs. RHP Brandon Workman (0-1)|
|7/31||Wed||at Bos||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4) vs. TBA|
|8/1||Thr||at Bos||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4) vs. TBA|