Little guys come up big for the Mariners

Apr 19, 2012, 1:49 AM | Updated: 11:56 am

By Shannon Drayer

Once again, tonight we saw the Mariners take advantage of a pitcher that was struggling. They seem to have that down so far this year. Six walks against Derek Lowe, who never looked like he had it and remarkably was left in the game for 112 pitches. According to Chone Figgins, his ball was running rather than sinking and was easier to hit.

Figgins led off the game with a home run, which was his first at Safeco Field, in the 4-1 win. For a guy who isn’t expected to hit home runs there have been a few times already this year that it looked like one of his hits might be going out. He is driving the baseball, something he credits in part to being healthy.

“I think a lot of it is because the hip is able to fire more and I am getting myself in position to actually drive the ball,” he said, referring to the injury that cut his season short last year.

“I’ve never had a swing where I can just flip the ball all over the ballpark but now I am able to really fire it and try to drive some things. Not like that,” he said, laughing, “not too often but I have hit some good balls in spring training and I have drove some balls here so I really need to stick with it.”

Figgins claims that he is more comfortable and has found more success recently from getting deeper and behind in counts. True for this year but not historically for him. I think it is more about seeing more pitches, something he wasn’t always able to do while hitting second last year. There were times when he had to react, try and do something to move the runner over rather than settle into his at-bat. Without explicitly saying it he has given the strong impression that was uncomfortable for him. He doesn’t look very uncomfortable now.

Of course Ichiro had to follow two batters later with a home run. Easiest call of the year. Obviously there is more to it than “Figgins hit a home run so I have to show that I can too,” I think, but I felt that one coming a mile away. Of course Ichiro had to have the final word in the dugout.

“I think he said his was still further,” Figgins said with a laugh when I asked if Ichiro had words for him in the dugout. “We can take that. I can accept it.”

Five hits and three RBIs from the 1-2-3 with Dustin Ackley throwing in a couple of hits as well. Production not quite as Eric Wedge must have envisioned it but no doubt a step in the right direction.

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Little guys come up big for the Mariners