Immersed in an 0-for-27 slump, Nick Franklin decided on a whim Tuesday night to shave off his beard.
“I just randomly decided I was going to come out a new person today,’’ he said.
It worked. In his first at-bat on Wednesday, the clean-shaven Franklin lashed a triple to the gap in right-center to end the hitless stretch. Franklin drove in Brad Miller, who had singled, and then scored himself on Kyle Seager’s ground out.
“It wasn’t really relief, but it was just nice to get started in the first inning, get going and get on top,’’ Franklin said. “I think more than anything, it was only the first inning, so I had three at-bats or more to worry about and adjust.”
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In subsequent at-bats, Franklin walked, reached on an error and scored, flied out, and struck out.
“I can’t get upset,’’ he said of his slump. “You know it’s going to happen. You know eventually it’s going to work itself out.’’
Acting manager Robby Thompson had tried to give Franklin a mental break by keeping him out of the lineup for two days in a row, Sunday and Monday.
“Honestly, the two days just made me itch to get back at it, more than anything,’’ he said. “Those two days, I got to do some work and figure some things out.”
Thompson remains confident Franklin will overcome these struggles.
“He’ll fight his way back in,’’ he said. “He’s a good hitter. He’s a good player. He’s young, and he’s going to have to deal with the ups and downs, and not get too high when he’s doing good and too low when he’s doing bad. That’s all part of this game, being able to handle the pressure and handle the ups and down.”
The Mariners continue to get production from their makeshift catching duo in the absence of injured rookie Mike Zunino. Humberto Quintero broke a 7-7 tie with a two-run homer off lefty Aaron Loup in the fifth.
In six games since joining the Mariners, Quintero is hitting .381 (8 for 21) with two homers and four runs batted in. Henry Blanco has two homers and seven RBI.
“Both of those guys have gotten some big hits for us, and big home runs,’’ Thompson said. “They’re both veteran guys who know their roles. Coming in, we sat down with Humberto and told him he’d probably get more of the catching time and to always be ready and prepared with the pitchers and the game plan. They’ve both been doing an outstanding job with that.”
Quintero said more regular playing time has helped him stay sharp.
“In Philadelphia, I didn’t play much,’’ he said. “Here, I’m playing three or four times a week, and it helps me be more consistent.”
• Before Wednesday’s game, Justin Smoak had driven in just one run in 84 at-bats as a right-hander. The switch-hitter doubled that total with one swing in the fifth inning, a line shot off the wall in left that barely missed going out. The runs pulled Seattle into a tie with the Blue Jays.
“It’s been feeling better from that side,’’ Smoak said. “It’s my natural side, and not usually that big of a problem, but this year, it’s just one of those things. It’s been feeling better the last few days, and it’s good to get the hit when we needed it.”
• Manager Eric Wedge once again visited with the team before the game.
• With two off days for the Mariners in the next five days, Thompson said before the game that Erasmo Ramirez’s next turn will be skipped.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry