05/08/2013 4:20 PM ET
Harang works out kinks, optimistic for future
By George Von Benko / Special to MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang has pieced together back-to-back solid outings, giving the Mariners hope that he will add more pitching depth to their starting rotation.
Harang had been tagged for 16 earned runs over 12 2/3 innings in three April starts before sitting down for a video session with pitching coach Carl Willis. They discovered a kink in Harang's windup that caused his pitches to flatten out and stay high in the strike zone.
Armed with that adjustment, Harang tossed six strong innings for the Mariners in a 4-1 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night. The right-hander gave up two runs on five hits and took the loss, falling to 1-4 on the season.
"I think with the three weeks off at the beginning of the season and just trying to keep myself in a rhythm, I was working more out of the stretch than anything," Harang said. "I think once I got back into a normal routine, I was kind of thrown off a little bit. We've done our work trying to figure things out, and obviously the last two starts have shown that's where I need to be at.
"I felt like I was really getting a good rhythm and good tempo with everything, and I was able to throw pitches where I wanted to and I was keeping the ball down in the zone."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was encouraged by Harang's last outing.
"Those last three innings in particular -- that was as good as we've seen him," Wedge said.
Mariners select 2013 honorary bat girl
PITTSBURGH -- Major League Baseball on Wednesday announced the 30 winners of the 2013 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The 30 winners, one per MLB club, will be recognized on the field at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day this Sunday, or an alternative date for away teams.
Fans across the country shared inspirational stories that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer, as well as the reasons they or their nominees should represent their favorite team.
The Mariners' honorary bat girl is Kimberly Fugere. She was born with one-fourth of her brain damaged after suffering an intrauteral stoke, and she also has cerebral palsy. The doctors told her she wouldn't walk or talk, and they said she should be institutionalized.
She stepped to the plate and proved them all wrong. She grew up to get a college degree, marry and have two children.
Wedge shakes up lineup for Interleague game
PITTSBURGH -- Seattle manager Eric Wedge inserted a few different players into his lineup for Wednesday's day game against the Pirates. Kendrys Morales was penciled in at first base, Jesus Montero was catching, Endy Chavez got the start in right field and Robert Andino was inserted at shortstop.
"It's a National League game, so all bets are off," Wedge said. "It's a totally different mindset. I wanted to give a couple of different guys opportunities, and also wanted to change it up a little bit, too. I thought that was important, too.
"Again, it's a different day, a day game after a night game. And you've got a different pitcher working against us, and we've got a different guy on the mound, too, so we'll see what happens."
Ackley finds consistency at plate
PITTSBURGH -- Dustin Ackley has been on a tear for two weeks now, and his batting average has climbed from .145 in mid-April to .239 after Wednesday's action.
The former No. 2 overall Draft pick might be on his way to finding some offensive consistency, though he finished the series at PNC Park by going 0-for-4 in the finale
"Considering where I started at the beginning of the year, struggling a little bit and not getting the hits, it's been great to have success of late finding some holes and doing some things right," Ackley said. "I feel good about it."
Ackley said part of his improvement at the plate has to do with a tweak in his mechanics and approach.
"I changed up a little bit with my stance about a week and a half, maybe two weeks into the season," Ackley said. "Just adjustments that needed to be made, and they've been working out lately. My timing has been a lot better than it was early on. I attribute a lot of it to that.
"Early on, I had a couple of bad-luck things that maybe if they had gone my way, things would have changed. But lately I've been doing the right things and been finding the holes and getting the hits when I'm supposed to, and that's been the best part for me."
• The Mariners boast the best ERA in Interleague history. Seattle's pitchers have compiled a 3.62 ERA in 285 games since the start of Interleague Play in 1997. The Yankees are second at 3.82, followed by the A's at 3.90, the Angels at 3.91 and the Braves at 3.97. No other Major League team has an ERA under 4.00.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.