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Seattle Mariners - PlayerWatch

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

2B Nick Franklin extended his career-long hitting streak to eight games with a sixth-inning single Tuesday. During the streak, Franklin is hitting .367 (11-for-30).

1B Justin Smoak had a rare home run from the right side of the plate Tuesday, when he took Kansas City LHP Bruce Chen deep in the fifth inning. The three-run homer was the switch-hitting Smoak's second home run as a right-handed hitter this season; for the sake of comparison, he has 17 homers from the left side.

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma looks to close out a surprising season on a high note when he makes his final start of the season Wednesday night. The 32-year-old Iwakuma may have been the Mariners' best starter this season, and that's saying a lot on a team that includes former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Iwakuma (13-6) has more wins than Hernandez (12), has a lower ERA (2.76 to 2.99) and has pitched more innings (211 2/3 to 198 1/3). Iwakuma, a first-time All-Star, had some stumbles in late June and early July but appears to be closing out the season on a roll: He has a 0.98 ERA over four September starts and has not given up a single run in three of them.

LHP James Paxton left quite an impression in his final start of the season Tuesday, when he threw seven shutout innings while allowing just four hits. Paxton struck out 10 batters while getting eight other Kansas City hitters to ground out. The 24-year-old rookie, who was getting an opportunity to prove himself as ready to be considered for the 2014 rotation, went 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts after being called up earlier this month. It's safe to assume he'll be in the mix when Seattle opens spring training.

LHP Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft and one of the organization's top prospects, is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his ailing shoulder. Shoulder problems limited Hultzen to 30 2/3 innings at Triple-A Tacoma this season. He was supposed to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, but the latest news puts that in jeopardy.

OF Abraham Almonte continues to make a case for being a part of the Mariners' 2014 plans. The rookie outfielder singled in his first at-bat Tuesday and has reached base in all 18 games since being called up on Aug. 30. Almonte went 1-for-4 on Tuesday and is hitting .279 since the promotion. One of the lesser-known Triple-A call-ups, Almonte is on track to play his way into a future role on the team.

DH Kendrys Morales had three of the Mariners' first six hits Tuesday. Among them were an RBI single and his team-high 34th double of the season. Morales went 3-for-4 to raise his team-best batting average to .279. Morales entered the game without a hit in five career at-bats against Kansas City starter Bruce Chen, but each of his three hits Tuesday came off Chen.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130925/seattle-mariners-playerwatch