By Alex Gallant
Special to 710Sports.com
When the Mariners were swept out of Cleveland in mid-May, it seemed as if they couldn’t catch a break.
They could have very easily won three of the four games, but instead were on the wrong end of three walk-off losses as the series was the start of an eight-game losing streak that put the Mariners in a hole they’re still trying to climb out of.
This time around against the Indians, it has been the Mariners’ turn to reap the rewards of a few lucky breaks and miscues from the opponent as they go for a third consecutive series sweep.
At first glance it appeared the ninth-inning double play in Tuesday night’s contest, in which Drew Stubbs was doubled off between third base and home plate, was one of those lucky breaks.
Although the slight hesitation from Stubbs as to whether or not to run certainly played a factor, the awareness from the young Mariners infield played the biggest role of all.
Bench coach Robby Thompson, who has been managing the team this series while Eric Wedge recuperates from dizzy spells he experienced before Monday’s game, said the play was really a result of the players always being on their toes.
“Our guys out there might have created that mistake,” Thompson said. “Talk about court awareness, that was a heads-up play. Seager got the ball immediately to Franklin and Nick took a look at where Stubbs was. They executed that like they’ve been around a long time. It’s not an easy play. Franklin did exactly what he was supposed to do and got the ball to [Mike] Zunino, who got him (Stubbs) running hard and Miller made his way over to third (to make the tag). It was an outstanding play on their part.”
Franklin was an integral part in turning the double play, and he noted the mental preparation right beforehand was big.
“There were so many possibilities of what they could do, I think just running the play through my head before it even happened was key,” Franklin said.
He and Seager also discussed the different possibilities the Indians could put into motion on the play.
“That was probably the most talking we did the entire game,” Franklin said. “That was a situation where you want to communicate the most you can so nothing can go wrong.”
Tom Wilhelmsen had given up two straight singles to start the inning to put the Mariners in a precarious position, and even he couldn’t believe what he was seeing as the double play unfolded.
“On third, Stubbs just kept inching off and inching off,” Wilhelmsen said. “And I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then, bada bing, bada boom we got two outs and a runner on first. Much better spot than no outs and runners on the corners.”
It’s not often a 5-4-2-6 double play is made, and the one turned Tuesday night by the Mariners is this lengthy winning streak in a nutshell.
When the youngest guys on the team are making veteran plays, it’s a sign this Mariners team could be really special.