BOSTON – A little chat with his veteran catcher went a long way towards helping Mariners relief pitcher Danny Farquhar gain an upper hand.
Farquhar had been struggling a couple of weeks back when catcher Henry Blanco, 41, took him aside and suggested he start throwing inside more on hitters.
“He was like ‘Man, with your stuff you need to start pounding hitters in,’’’ said Farquhar, who had been going through a rough patch at the time. “And I really took it to heart and started applying it. I think a lot of my success is due to Henry talking to me.’’
Farquhar had been speaking as well with pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Jaime Navarro about using all three of his pitches – a four-seam fastball, cutter and curveball – more evenly. By throwing inside with his fastball and cutter, he’s able to now better set hitters up for his curveball.
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In Wednesday’s 15-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox, Farquhar threw inside plenty and logged four strikeouts over three scoreless innings. He’d typically been a pitcher who felt comfortable living on the outer part of the plate.
“It was mostly just kind of going along with what’s comfortable for me,’’ he said. “Instead of making a conscious effort to make hitters uncomfortable in the box. But the talk really woke me up.’’
Farquhar said he now realizes hitters were simply sitting back and waiting for him to throw outside, then pouncing on his pitches. Now, he backs them off the plate by working in and keeps them off-balance for when he does throw outside.
Interim Mariners manager Robby Thompson likes what he’s seeing, even though he was the type of hitter who once feasted on inside pitches.
“I liked the ball inside,’’ Thompson said with a laugh. “ I had trouble with the ball away. But yeah, it’s just something you react to as a hitter when it’s inside. It does, it gets you off the plate and it gets you thinking inside and that’s where it opens up the outside of the plate.’’
• The Mariners are playing more marathon games this year than just about any other time in their history. Their 15-inning affair on Wednesday was their fifth game already of at least 13 innings in length. That’s only happened twice in team history: in 2004 and 1980 – and they still have one third of a season to go. Seattle has now played games of 16, 15, 14 and two contests of 13 innings this season. They lead all American League clubs in games of 12 innings or more, going 1-4 in such contests. No other AL team has played more than three such games.
• Brad Miller led off Thursday’s game with a triple to right field. It was his third triple in just his 29th major league game.
• Kendrys Morales had four more hits on Thursday, giving him seven in his last two games and nine on the series.