Displaced by Robinson Cano, Mariners demote Nick Franklin back to the minors

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Nick Franklin showed enough promise as a rookie second baseman for the Mariners last season that he seemed set as the team’s long-term answer there, but then they signed Robinson Cano for $240 million.

That knocked Franklin out of the second base picture and forced him into a competition with Brad Miller to start at shortstop, which is a position where he’s stretched defensively. Miller won that battle and now, instead of keeping Franklin around in a part-time role the Mariners demoted him back to Triple-A.

Franklin played 102 games in the majors last year and prior to making his MLB debut in late May he smacked around Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .324 batting average and .912 OPS. He also hit well this spring with a .777 OPS in 17 games. In other words, if not for the Cano signing Franklin would still be in the majors. Instead now he’s back in the Pacific Coast League and will play shortstop there while trade rumors no doubt continue to swirl.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.