MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - INSIDE PITCH
Right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen took a sudden and dramatic fall from the role of closer in June, but a stretch of four consecutive encouraging outings has him back in position to regain his job.
In three appearances last week - all non-save situations - Wilhelmsen retired all eight batters he faced while striking out four. That lowered his June ERA to 10.97 after a horrific start to the month that saw Wilhelmsen blow three saves and temporarily lose his closer's job.
He opened July with another 1-2-3 inning in Tuesday's ninth inning, running his consecutive streak of batters retired to 14. Then he pitched a perfect 10th inning to get the save in a 4-2 win Wednesday. It was his first save since June 10.
Manager Eric Wedge tried to put Wilhelmsen in pressure situations over the last two weeks of June and mostly had mixed results until the reliever finally put together a strong week to close out the month and built back some confidence in the process.
Before Tuesday's game in Texas, Wedge said he was considering putting Wilhelmsen back in the role of closer soon.
"We'll probably give him another outing or two, but he's been much more consistent, much more like his old self," Wedge told The Seattle Times.
Later that night, Wilhelmsen worked the bottom of a ninth inning for the first time since June 18 -- albeit in a non-save situation as the Mariners took a 9-2 lead into the final inning. But another perfect inning seemed to only solidify the plans of Wedge and the Mariners, who never really found a full-time closing option after Wilhelmsen while he regained his form.
Through April and May, Wilhelmsen was one of the most dominant closers in baseball, and his June control struggles seemed to have a lot to do with confidence. Having put together a stretch of hitless innings, Wilhelmsen appears ready to take the mound as a closer again.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won two
PAST 10 GAMES: 5-5
NEXT: Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma, 7-3, 2.42) at Rangers (Martin Perez, 2-1, 2.37)
--RHP Hisashi Iwakuma faces the Rangers in his 18th start of the season Thursday. He leads the American League in ERA and WHIP (0.88) and his .203 opponent batting average is fifth. He is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two starts this season against Texas, both in Seattle. In his last start, he earned a no-decision, going eight innings and giving up four runs on six hits.
--CF Michael Saunders entered as a pinch-hitter in the 10th, drew a walk and scored the go-ahead run on Kyle Seager's home run in the 10th inning. The work was Saunders' first action in four games. He has been sidelined with an injured thumb.
--RF Jason Bay's leadoff home run on Wednesday, his second this season, improved the Mariners' MLB-leading total in the first inning to 19.
--LHP Danny Hultzen (strained rotator cuff) was scratched from a scheduled rehabilitation start Tuesday in Tacoma because of an aggravation in the shoulder. Officials will evaluate and make a determination on a course of action in the coming days.
--RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, demoted as closer earlier this season, could be making his way back into that role after striking out five and facing the minimum 17 batters in his last six appearances. He earned the save Wednesday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's always good to win within your division. It's always better to do that on the road within your division. The guys have done a nice job the last couple of nights." -- Manager Eric Wedge, after Seattle's second straight win over Texas.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - ROSTER REPORT
--CF Michael Saunders (right hand) was held out of the lineup for a third consecutive game July 2. Saunders returned to the lineup July 3.
--CF Franklin Gutierrez (torn right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list April 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on May 16. He was shut down in early June, but he began a new rehab assignment with Tacoma on June 12. He was activated June 22, but he had to come out in the seventh inning June 23 when his hamstring tightened up. He was back on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 24.
--1B/OF Michael Morse (strained right quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 21. He did running drills July 2.
--C Jesus Sucre (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6.
--RHP Stephen Pryor (torn right lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 15, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17.
--C Jesus Montero (torn left meniscus) is expected to be out until late June or early July after undergoing surgery in early June. He isn't on the disabled list because he was optioned to the minors before he got injured.
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP Joe Saunders
RHP Aaron Harang
RHP Jeremy Bonderman
RHP Yoervis Medina
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
LHP Charlie Furbush
LHP Oliver Perez
RHP Carter Capps
RHP Danny Farquhar
RHP Blake Beavan
1B Justin Smoak
2B Nick Franklin
SS Brendan Ryan
3B Kyle Seager
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Brad Miller
CF Michael Saunders
RF Endy Chavez
LF Raul Ibanez
OF Jason Bay
OF/INF Dustin Ackley