SEATTLE -- The obvious fear when Mitch Haniger went down with a strained oblique nine days ago was that the Mariners would have trouble replacing the red-hot rookie. But somebody forgot to inform Ben Gamel of those concerns.
Gamel has stepped into Haniger's right field role and No. 2 spot in the lineup without a hitch.
Gamel, the Mariners newest rookie sensation, went 3-for-3 with a double, two walks, three runs, two RBIs and a nice diving catch in the ninth inning to help spark Seattle's 11-3 win over the Angels on Thursday. He's put up a .333/.444/.567 line in eight games since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma.
Gamel, a 24-year-old acquired from the Yankees last Aug. 8, is starting to settle in to his first extended Major League duty.
"Definitely comfort-wise, I'm starting to get there," said the Florida native. "I'm just trying to look for good pitches and not chase and get my pitch and not miss it when I do get it."
Clearly hitting second in a Mariners lineup behind standout shortstop Jean Segura and in front of Robinson Cano has helped both Haniger and now Gamel get good pitches to hit and both have flourished.
"It's protection," said Gamel. "There's protection everywhere. You've got Seggy and Cano and [Nelson] Cruz and it just never ends."
But there's also pressure to produce in that spot and the youngster has handled that with quiet aplomb. And by reaching base five times Thursday, he hiked his average to .384 with seven runs, four doubles, one homer, five walks and four RBIs in his past six games.
"The quality of his at-bats has always been good and understanding the strike zone," said manager Scott Servais. "He has a very good track record of hitting at the Minor League level and now he's getting a chance to do it with us here.
"We've needed it. He's certainly stepped up in the two-hole and has been a nice guy to have right in front of Robbie and Cruz and Seags [Kyle Seager]."
Gamel capped his night by extending full out to catch a sinking liner by Juan Graterol for the second out in the ninth, earning an appreciative fist pump from reliever Dillon Overton. But the youngster insisted on sharing credit with everyone else after his biggest night yet on the Major League stage.
"With this lineup, we're just trying to turn it over to one another," he said. "And it was good at-bat after good at-bat after good at-bat. It's awesome for the whole lineup and [Ariel] Miranda pitched a heckuva game, too."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.