MIAMI – Brandon Maurer’s philosophy for his start on Sunday is simple and uncomplicated.

“Do my best and just try to keep us in the game,” he said.

That would be slightly better than what the Mariners have received on this road trip. If Maurer lasts more than four innings that would be a good first start for the young right-hander, by comparison.

Really, the Mariners can only expect four to five innings from Maurer. Because a back injury shut him down in spring training, he started the season behind in his innings pitched. He was pitching as a reliever to start the season to build his pitch count.

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In his last start on Monday in Albuquerque, he was lifted after 49 pitches. The problem was that came after just two innings.

“I got behind in a lot of counts there,” he said.

Maurer will need to be more efficient on Sunday for a Mariners team that has overworked its bullpen considerably during the last eight games.

Manager Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t give any details about what that pitch count would be for Maurer. When asked, Maurer wasn’t certain.

“I honestly have no idea,” he said.

An educated guess would put the pitch limit around 75.

“I’m going to go as long as I can,” Maurer said.

Maurer believes people will see a different pitcher when he takes the mound than the nervous rookie that let his emotions affect his outings. He went 2-7 with a 6.93 ERA in his first 10 starts last season before being sent to Class AAA Tacoma.

“I’m definitely more comfortable now,” he said.

With so many injuries to starting pitchers, and Erasmo Ramirez struggling, if Maurer pitches well he could stay in the starting rotation for a while.

“If it’s going to happen, it will happen,” he said.

Notes

Nick Franklin did early work in right field with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke. Franklin remarked that outfield is much easier than infield. But it didn’t look like it on those drills. Van Slyke worked Franklin hard with plenty of balls hit over his head that he had to chase down. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Franklin in the outfield soon.

“If I had to put him out there, I’d feel comfortable with it,” McClendon said. “I’d have no problem at all.”

• McClendon said starter James Paxton still isn’t throwing and will be re-evaluated later this week. He is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lat muscle. Taijuan Walker is scheduled for an anti-inflammatory shot in his shoulder and will be re-evaluated in seven days.

• The Mariners suffered their third walk-off loss this season on Friday night. Since the 2010 season, the Mariners have lost 52 walk-off games, including 13 last season.

• Sunday is the 24-year anniversary of Brian Holman throwing 82
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3 perfect innings in front of a sellout crowd in Oakland. His bid for perfection was broken up by Ken Phelps’ pinch hit with two outs in the ninth — a first-pitch home run.

Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or rdivish@seattletimes.com