Nick Franklin threw his arms up, kicked his legs and turned a shout loose.
It was a pose akin to Felix Hernandez’s celebration when the ace finished his perfect game last season, immortalizing “Felixing.” Franklin’s display was an extrapolation born of having feigned the move so many times prior when clowning around.
He had good reason for the fervor. Franklin hit two homers and converted a scintillating ninth-inning double play Sunday at Safeco Field in the Mariners’ 6-4 split-earning win over the Minnesota Twins.
Franklin, who leads American League rookies in home runs (10) and RBIs (32), circled the bases with calm after fourth- and seventh-inning homers.
But, it was the double play in the ninth with shortstop pal Brad Miller that prompted Franklin’s outburst.
Miller galloped to his left to scoop up a grounder heading toward center then flipped to Franklin. The second baseman contorted to throw to first with little help from his legs for the second out. Brief celebration followed.
“It was a backwards throw just to me feed me,” Franklin said. “When I saw the ball up the middle, I know he has a lot of range, when he got to it, I was just pumped.”
Franklin’s pop has brought him a six-home run month in July despite his moderate build. Interim 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 May 27, yet is producing at such a potent level he’s part of the lightweight American League Rookie of the Year race.
Franklin said he’s not paying attention to those circumstances.
“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 the slightest lead of 5-4 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 swelled was it not for 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 casually 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 had all the particulars figured out and stole a three-run homer from Colabello.
“I had to do my adjustment from the first one, make sure I get on the fence first,” Chavez said.
Michael Saunders’ seventh home run of the year landed to the left of the windows in the Hit It Here Cafe in the Mariners’ four-run fourth. A grumpy hamstring had limited his playing time the past few days.
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for his 24th save. He allowed a bunt single before Franklin and Miller turned to and the tide of the inning.