SEATTLE -- The annual Seattle Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America Awards were given to Mariners players in a ceremony on the field prior to Friday's game against the Rangers.
John Jaso won the Unsung Hero Award, Kyle Seager was awarded the Most Valuable Player and Felix Hernandez was chosen as the Most Valuable Pitcher. Additionally, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association awarded Munenori Kawasaki the Heart and Hustle Award and Hernandez the Moment of the Year for his perfect game.
Jaso started the season as the third catcher and occasional designated hitter but has worked his way into more consistent playing time with his performance at the plate. Jaso has 13 game-winning RBIs and has reached base safely in 37 of 40 starts since the All-Star break. He is batting .308 (36-for-117) in 36 starts behind the dish.
"Obviously, we acquired him because we liked him as a player, but you look at what he's meant to our club, in regard to game-winning hits and [he's] really come a long way behind home plate," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "Like the way he swings the bat and handles himself, carries himself in a very professional manner. Good heartbeat. There's a lot to like there. He's been involved in a lot of what we've done this year."
As for Seager, the first-year third baseman is batting .258 with a team-leading 18 home runs and 81 RBIs.
"If you look at our most consistent offensive player, producer and guy's playing every day, it's Kyle," Wedge said. "I think we got a couple other guys that have really come a long way this year, too, and a couple others that are on their way. Maybe a tad behind, but you can see the progress they're making and ultimately where that can end up. Well deserved for Kyle."
Mariners grateful for needed off-day at home
SEATTLE -- Off days don't come often during the Major League Baseball season and those that come while at home are even more rare. Thursday's home off-day for the Mariners, their sixth of the season, couldn't have come at a better time.
Following an 18-inning marathon on Tuesday and 11 frames on Wednesday against Baltimore that both ended in tough losses, the bullpen was in complete disarray, especially after 7 2/3 innings of work on Monday.
"There's a physical part of this game and there's a mental part of this game," said Josh Kinney, who threw a combined 54 pitches in 2 2/3 innings during the last two games. "I think a good way to look at those situations is probably a big mind over matter. You might feel like crap, you might feel great, but all in all, mentally, you just got to be in check and go at 'em just as aggressive mentally as you can. Don't worry about your body.
"I got home and I was sitting there and I could feel my heartbeat in my arm. But that's OK, that's all right because I didn't have to pitch yesterday. Today I woke up and real excited to get here and get back after it, man. We got 12 games left and a lot of pitching. Let's rock and roll."
The extra innings weren't just tough on the bullpen, though, as two close losses can be a frustrating thing for a struggling offense. The Mariners had entered the series against the Orioles after a tough three-game set in Texas, so it was extra baggage, emotionally.
"I think our team needed it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "If you look at the tough series at Texas, of course, tough series coming back here against Baltimore. A couple extra-inning games. Of course, those games can go either way, but they're long games. [The day off] was good for us, as much mentally as physically."
Ackley exits with stiff neck after three innings
SEATTLE -- Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley left Friday's game against the Rangers after three innings with neck stiffness.
Kyle Seager moved from third base to second and Alex Liddi entered the game at third.
Ackley was 0-for-2 with two groundouts before he exited the game. The Mariners' leadoff hitter is batting .231 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs this season.
Carlos Triunfel made his first career start in the Majors on Friday night, hitting ninth and playing shortstop. The 22-year-old infielder made his Major League debut on Sept. 7 and recorded his first MLB hit on Sept. 13.
"Good time to get Carlos in there," manager Eric Wedge said. "Give [Brendan Ryan] two days off in a row. Get Carlos in there against the left-hander. Been wanting to try to get him a start, and feel like this is a good night to do it."
The Mariners enter Friday's game against the Rangers with home runs in 10 straight contests. The team's longest streak this season came from Aug. 17-28, went they went deep in 11 consecutive games.
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.