CLEVELAND -- While he didn't hit his second home run of the season until the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Indians, Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak has quietly been putting together a strong three-week stretch that has lifted his batting average to .254.
Going into Sunday's game, Smoak had reached base safely in 12 straight starts and is hitting .328 (20-for-61) over the past 19 games with a .992 OPS.
The 26-year-old from South Carolina has been seeing the ball better this season, waiting for his pitches, and is tied for seventh in the American League with 24 walks. The only thing missing for Smoak has been power, and he figures that will follow if he continues swinging well and being selective.
"I've been squaring balls up," Smoak said. "I've hit a couple doubles. The homers will come. In the past, I've got too pull-happy trying to be a homer guy. It's not good for me, as we've seen in the past. I'm just trying to get good at-bats -- hit the ball where it's pitched. It's a long season. Good things will happen."
Manager Eric Wedge said Smoak is following a natural progression that will pay off for him in the long run this year.
"I feel like Smoak and [Dustin] Ackley have been getting their hits, but now with Justin, he's starting to create a little more damage. He had the double the other way and the home run. That's what he's capable of doing. But he's been getting on base. He's had long at-bats. Those have all been good things to see.
"You have to hit first, and then if there is power in there, it'll come in time. But you can't shortcut the process and try to get there without having the other because you'll come up empty. He's done a good job with that."
Righty Farquhar impresses Wedge in scoreless debut
CLEVELAND -- Danny Farquhar made his Mariners debut on Saturday and it couldn't have gone better, with the right-hander throwing 2 2/3 innings of perfect ball with five strikeouts in Seattle's 5-4 loss to the Indians.
Farquhar, called up Friday from Triple-A Tacoma, stranded two inherited runners that belonged to starter Joe Saunders when he entered with one out in the sixth, and he proceeded to blank the Indians in the seventh and eighth as well.
"I was a little nervous, but it was nice to get the rust off," said the 5-foot-9, 180-pound pitcher from Florida. "It's been five days since I've thrown. I felt pretty good out there."
Helping Saunders was his first order of business, after Seattle's starter had given up two runs in the sixth and left with two on.
"My main goal is to not allow anybody else's runners. That always [stinks]," Farquhar said. "I was just happy to get out of that situation and continue to throw strikes. It went well."
No argument there from manager Eric Wedge.
"That was better than we saw this spring, and we saw him really good this spring. And he's been very good in Triple-A," Wedge said prior to Sunday's game. "But it was very nice to see him step up yesterday. He just really was aggressive, went right after them, pitched with confidence with all his pitches, which helped him be effective against both right- and left-handers. Very impressive."
Farquhar was acquired from the Yankees last July in the Ichiro Suzuki trade and was called up by the Mariners this week to help a bullpen that was depleted when Hector Noesi had to make a spot start for Aaron Harang on Thursday in New York.
Ryan finding groove at the plate
CLEVELAND -- It's been so long since Brendan Ryan was in a groove at the plate that he's not going to overanalyze what's been happening the past week, as he put together a five-game hitting streak and laced his first two extra-base hits of the year with a home run and double the first two games against the Indians.
Ryan hit his first home run since Sept. 23 of last year in the eighth inning Saturday in a 2-for-3 day that lifted his average to .178, up from a season-low .122 six days earlier.
"I'm not really sure," Ryan said with a smile. "I don't even know what I hit on that [home run]. I'm just trying to stay committed to the approach and swing at good pitches. I think we're just finding the barrel a little better, and when you get those good pitches, you can't foul 'em off. I'm putting them in play.
"Even in the Yankee series, I was putting them in play, but you still have to have some good fortune. Right now they're finding some green, so that makes it nice. It's nice to help the team not just defensively once in a while."
Manager Eric Wedge likes what he's been seeing, enough so that Ryan was in the lineup Sunday for the eighth straight day after splitting time with Robert Andino at the position earlier in the season.
"It's been really good," Wedge said. "This guy has had a tough time of it, but he's really worked hard, and the coaches have really worked hard with him trying to get him to do a few different things up there fundamentally. He's staying behind the ball a little better and being in a better-balanced position.
"You can't have better at-bats than he had yesterday," said Wedge. "That was pretty impressive, and it's been three or four days now that he's put up better ABs. That would be a huge boost for him, the way he's gone up there and competed."
• Aaron Harang threw before Sunday's game and everything went well, so Wedge said he believes everything is OK heading for Harang's next scheduled start Tuesday in Anaheim. Harang was scratched Thursday due to lower back stiffness.
• When Raul Ibanez and Smoak hit back-to-back, two-out home runs in the ninth inning Saturday against the Indians, it was the first time in club history that had occurred to tie a game in the ninth inning or later. The last Major League team to pull it off was the Braves against the Phillies on April 20, 2010, when Troy Glaus and Jason Heyward homered back-to-back off Ryan Madson in the ninth inning, and the Braves won in the 10th.
• Wedge said he looked at tape of the game-ending play at the plate on Saturday and felt catcher Jesus Montero could have kept his foot on the plate, but pulled off early as the throw from Brendan Ryan arrived.
"You're not going to turn two on that, so you just need to keep the foot planted," Wedge said. "I don't think he needed to go out and get it. He just released off the plate too early."
• Franklin Gutierrez went 1-for-4 with an RBI and played right field the whole game Saturday as Triple-A Tacoma beat Memphis, 4-3. Gutierrez is hitting .250 (3-for-12) through his first three rehab games as he returns from a strained hamstring.
• Jeremy Bonderman allowed three runs and six hits in six innings Saturday with two walks and three strikeouts, but didn't get the decision for Tacoma. Bonderman is 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts.