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Improved cutter helping Farquhar regain form

ARLINGTON -- One of the biggest issues for the Mariners this season has been the inconsistency of a bullpen that had the lowest ERA in the Majors in 2014. So manager Lloyd McClendon was happy to see a strong outing from right-hander Danny Farquhar, one of the missing links, in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Rangers.

"That was the Farquhar of old," McClendon said. "Where has he been? It was nice to see."

Farquhar whipped through a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts, preserving Hisashi Iwakuma's lead and setting up closer Carson Smith to finish things off in the ninth. That's the sort of combination that worked so well last season -- a strong start, a shutdown set-up and then the save, though with former closer Fernando Rodney in the former scenario.

Farquhar has been so up and down this season that he's literally been up and down -- this is his fourth stint with the club after spending much of the year with Triple-A Tacoma. His ERA stands at 5.88 and opposing batters have hit .288 in his 28 outings, a far cry from last year's 2.66 ERA and .221 batting average against.

Farquhar believes he squared some things away with his cutter in his last stint with Tacoma with help from Rainiers pitching coordinator Terry Clark.

"I'm going to give some credit to TC down in the Minor Leagues," Farquhar said. "He told me I just needed to throw it and trust it, and that's what I did a little bit. And I think it's up a tick or two. "

That increased velocity is part of the solution as well.

"Absolutely. It gives the hitter less time to react," he said. "I think it has it breaking a little later maybe, instead of them seeing it early. I think it makes a difference."

More than anything, it seems Farquhar is back to believing in what he's throwing.

"I went down to Triple-A and got some confidence back and I'm just rolling with it," he said.

McClendon says the confidence that comes with success is big for any player, though he didn't think that was the whole issue with Farquhar.

"I'm surprised that would be the case because I've always thought of him as a bulldog-type pitcher that thrived in tough, big situations," McClendon said. "I certainly don't think he was afraid out there. He just lost his feel and had to get it back.

"It's all command. The first three months, all I saw was ball one, ball two, 3-1. It's all command. He attacked hitters [Tuesday] and made quality pitches."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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