A night after Carlos Triunfel made his first major league start, the Seattle Mariners were still talking about his right arm.
The middle man in three infield double plays against Texas, the rookie shortstop showed accuracy and serious velocity on his throws to first – something Justin Smoak could hardly fail to notice.
“That throw in the first inning made my fingers go numb,” Smoak said. “I couldn’t feel them until the third inning.”
Manager Eric Wedge believed him.
“Smoak came into the dugout that first inning shaking that glove hand,” Wedge said. “And the throw Carlos made from the hole? He threw that on a line and didn’t seem to be straining.”
Triunfel’s game, which included a double, earned him at least one more start down the stretch.
“We’ll get him out there again,” Wedge said. “He played a good game.”
Speaking of Smoak, he’s closing the 2012 season with his usual ferocity – a .214 career hitter, his lifetime average in September/October is .324.
This month, he’s batting .340 in 15 games, with two doubles and two home runs. Is it just another hot streak for a man who began the game Saturday batting .207?
“Justin is doing some things fundamentally different at the plate, he’s not just taking the same old approach up there,” Wedge said. “For that reason, I think you’ve got to believe it’s real.”
Among the things Smoak is doing is going back to the days when his father coached him in the back yard.
“My dad always told me, ‘Keep both hands on the bat,’ and I used to think, ‘What do you know about it?’ ” Smoak said. “I did what he said and it worked all through college, but somehow I got away from it, especially hitting left-handed.”
“When we were in Texas last week, I remembered him telling me that and tried it and felt real good in batting practice, took it into the game and homered,” said Smoak, whose father died during the 2011 season.
“It’s one of those things you laugh about because I was sure he was clueless and it turns out he knew what he was talking about,” Smoak said. “I find a lot of those things as I get a little older. He was right all along.”
Dustin Ackley was unavailable to play Saturday because of a stiff neck, which took him out of Friday’s game early. It’s not considered a major issue, and the team said Ackley could play as soon as today. … In his 14 starts, Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2.93 earned-run average is second in franchise history among rookie starters with at least 10 starts, behind only Felix Hernandez’s 2.67 ERA in ’05. … Since the All-Star break, the Mariners have won 35 games, and Tom Wilhelmsen has saved 21 of those – including all seven in September.
Seattle plays host to Texas in a 1:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Texas’ Ryan Dempster (6-2, 4.70 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (14-10 3.92).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners