Seattle Mariners

Recent hitting streak points to a resurgent Trumbo for Mariners

Mark Trumbo, right, is congratulated by third base coach Rich Donnelly after a two-run home run Wednesday against the Rangers.  Trumbo went 18-for-48 in a 12-game hitting streak that ended Friday.
Mark Trumbo, right, is congratulated by third base coach Rich Donnelly after a two-run home run Wednesday against the Rangers. Trumbo went 18-for-48 in a 12-game hitting streak that ended Friday. The Associated Press

Mark Trumbo’s career-best hitting streak ended at 12 games Friday when he went 0 for 3 with a walk in the Mariners’ 4-2 loss to Colorado. So let’s check his numbers.

Trumbo went 18 for 48 in his streak, with four homers and 11 RBIs, and, really, it was just a continuation of a surge that began more than two months ago. Trumbo is batting .308 in 56 games since July 4.

Recall that he endured a dreadful first month after arriving June 3 from Arizona in a six-player deal that also netted pitcher Vidal Nuno. Trumbo was 11 for 79 in his first 22 games with one homer and five RBIs.

It appears all he needed was a little time to feel comfortable.

“You want to make a good impression,” Trumbo said. “You want to contribute. There’s always a reason you’re brought somewhere. Obviously, my job is to drive in runs.

“If I’m not driving in runs … I’m not an elite defender or a plus runner. So I need to do what I do. If I’m doing it, great. If not, it’s rough.”

For two months now, Trumbo has been the guy the Mariners anticipated.

“He has the ability to carry the club for 10-12 days at a time,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s been nice to see. He’s been a big plus to our offense.”

Trumbo has 11 homers and 31 RBIs since July 4 and has boosted his overall slash production, in 78 games, to .260/.311/.426 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).

Those numbers are pretty much in line with his career averages.

“It was a mental drain for sure,” Trumbo said of his first month. “I tried to have perspective with it. I’ve done a lot of good things in the past, and I feel I have a lot of good things to do in the future.”

Especially once he gets comfortable.

“You know everyone,” Trumbo said. “You know their personalities. You just feel a part of something that, maybe, wasn’t quite the case (earlier).”

POUNDING LEFTIES

The Mariners, entering Saturday, had the top three home run hitters against left-handed pitchers in the American League.

Nelson Cruz led the league with 13 homers against lefties, followed by Kyle Seager with 12 and Mark Trumbo with 11. (A disclaimer: Trumbo hit four homers against lefties while playing for Arizona.)

Cruz, Seager and Trumbo rank two-three-four overall. Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier leads the majors, through Friday, with 14 homers against left-handed pitchers.

GUTIERREZ RETURNS

Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez returned Saturday for the first time since leaving the Sept. 4 game in Oakland because of chronic joint issues, which flared up near his right groin muscle.

“It is what it is,” McClendon said. “He’ll give me what he’s got. If he can play, he’ll play. If he can’t, he’ll come out of the game.”

Gutierrez went 1 for 4 with a homer in a 7-2 victory over Colorado. He is now batting .309 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 47 games since his June 24 promotion from Triple-A Tacoma.

▪ Cruz started for the third straight game at designated hitter but remains slowed by a strained right quadriceps muscle. McClendon said: “I would not anticipate him being in the outfield for this homestand.”

▪ Second baseman Robinson Cano is still nursing abdominal strain that forced him to miss three games in late July. McClendon said: “I’ve got to try to get him a day off.”

INSTRUCTS ON HORIZON

Catcher Mike Zunino and shortstop Chris Taylor aren’t the only notable players heading to the Instructional League, which begins Wednesday and runs through Oct. 6 at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Ariz.

The roster of roughly 60 players also includes:

▪ Four players from the TNT Top 10 preseason ranking of the organization’s top prospects: outfielders Alex Jackson (1) and Austin Wilson (5), left-handed pitcher Luiz Gohara (8) and catcher Tyler Marlette (9).

▪ Eight of the club’s top 10 picks in the June draft: pitchers Nick Neidert, Andrew Moore, Cody Mobley and Darin Gillies; first baseman Ryan Uhl, shortstop Drew Jackson, third baseman Conner Hale and outfielder Braden Bishop.

The Mariners will operate two clubs, which will each play 11 games beginning on Sept. 22.

PLANS FOR WALKER

Right-hander Taijuan Walker is scheduled to start Monday in the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field, but is likely to be skipped on the rotation’s next cycle.

Walker is already pushing his workload limit for the season at 1622/3 innings for his 28 starts. He only pitched 129 innings last season between the Mariners, the minors and the Arizona Fall League.

The Mariners’ tentative plan is to use Walker, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the three games against the Angels.

After an open date on Thursday, the projection for next weekend’s series at Texas is Vidal Nuno, Paxton and Hernandez.

LOOKING BACK

It was 19 years ago — Sept. 13, 1996 — that Alex Rodriguez, then a 20-year-old in his first full season, became the first player in Mariners history to get 200 hits in a season.

Rodriguez reached the milestone with an RBI single in the first inning against Twins left-hander Travis Miller in 13-7 victory at Minnesota.

Rodriguez finished with 215 hits and won his only batting title when he led the majors with a .358 average.

Rodriguez finished a close second to Texas outfielder Juan Gonzalez in balloting for the American League’s most valuable player (290 points to 287).

SHORT HOPS

No surprise, but the Mariners are finally listing left-handed pitcher James Paxton as their starting pitcher for Sunday’s series finale. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 28 because of a strained tendon in his middle finger. He then suffered a blister and torn nail on the same finger in a rehab start. … Roenis Elias on Saturday ended a six-start winless streak in which he was 0-4 with a 6.11 ERA. … John Hicks collected his first career RBI by executing a suicide squeeze in the fourth inning. … Kyle Seager went 2 for 4 and has hits in 14 of his last 15 games. He has eight multihit games in that span.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rockies conclude their three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field.

Paxton (3-3, 3.70), in his return to the Seattle rotation, will face Colorado right-hander Kyle Kendrick (5-12, 6.25). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 770 (KTTH-AM).

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THE BALL HAS LEFT THE YARD

Major league leaders, home runs vs. left-handed pitchers (through Friday):

1. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati, 14

2. Nelson Cruz, Mariners, 13

3. Kyle Seager, Mariners, 12

4. Mark Trumbo, Mariners, 11

5. Chris Davis, Baltimore, 10

6. Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay, 10

7. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, 10

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