By Todd Dybas The New Tribune
SEATTLE — Nick Franklin threw his arms up, kicked his legs and screamed.
It was a pose akin to Felix Hernandez’s celebration when the ace finished his perfect game last season, immortalizing “Felixing.” Franklin has used the pose many times before when clowning around.
But on Sunday the Seattle rookie second baseman had good reason for his own celebration. Franklin hit two homers and helped turn a scintillating ninth-inning double play in the Mariners’ 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.
Franklin, who leads American League rookies in home runs (10) and RBI (32), circled the bases without any histrionics after fourth- and seventh-inning home runs.
But the double play in the ninth he turned with shortstop and pal Brad Miller prompted Franklin’s outburst.
Miller galloped to his left to scoop up a grounder heading toward center field, then flipped to Franklin. The second baseman contorted his body and the throw to first to complete the double play, followed by the celebration pose.
“It was a backwards throw just to me feed me,” Franklin said of Miller’s toss for the force out at second. “When I saw the ball up the middle, I know he (Miller) has a lot of range, when he got to it, I was just pumped.”
Despite his slight build, Franklin has hit six home runs in July. Interim M’s manager Robby Thompson said Franklin’s bat speed and ability to get backspin after contact lead to his power.
“He’s small, but he’s a strong kid,” Thompson said.
That strength has pushed Franklin into the American League Rookie of the Year conversation. He’s only been in the major leagues since he was called up from Class AAA Tacoma on May 27, yet is producing at such a potent level he’s part of the rookie award race.
Franklin said he’s not paying attention to the rookie conversation.
“No, not really,” Franklin said. “Honestly, I try to stay away from stats, keep my nose clean, not look into that.
“More you look into it, the more you try to do better, which is something you don’t want to try to do. My job is to help the ballclub win.”
He did plenty of that Sunday, with three hits, including solo and three-run homers. It was enough to counter another middling outing from starter Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 7.71 ERA).
Ramirez left Sunday’s start with a 5-4 after lead after allowing two runs in the sixth. In his third outing this season, he allowed four earned runs in his six innings, a total that would have been more were it not for Seattle right fielder Endy Chavez.
Chavez leaped in front of the right-field wall in the second inning as Ryan Doumit’s fly ball came down. The ball pinballed around in Chavez’s glove before gently popping out, bouncing off the yellow line atop the wall and back into play. Doumit ended up with a double. The next batter, Chris Colabello, homered.
“I lost the ball,” Chavez said. “I didn’t see it anymore, I just felt it hit my glove but it wasn’t in the right part of the glove.”
In the third, Colabello — who hit his first career homer Friday — smacked a fly to right with two runners on. This time, Chavez leaped above the wall to rob Colabello of a three-run homer.
“I had to do my adjustment from the first one, make sure I get on the fence first,” Chavez said.
The Mariners’ Michael Saunders’ seventh home run of the year landed to the left of the windows in the Hit It Here Cafe in the right field stands in the Mariners’ four-run fourth.
Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for his 24th save. He allowed a bunt single before Franklin and Miller turned their double play.