OAKLAND -- Looking to spark a struggling offense, Mariners manager Eric Wedge dropped Ichiro Suzuki to second in his batting order for Saturday night's game against the A's and moved second baseman Dustin Ackley up to the leadoff spot.
It's the first time Ichiro has started a game in the No. 2 spot in the order in his 12-year Major League career, though he has pinch-hit and come into games twice in that position. Ichiro started this season batting third for the Mariners, but Wedge moved him back to his familiar leadoff role about a month ago, and he's hit just .237 in that role.
Ackley hit .279 with a .359 on-base percentage in 26 games in the leadoff spot earlier in the year, but has struggled since getting dropped down the last month, and is now hitting .235 with a .315 OBP for the season.
"We're just trying to get those two guys going," said Wedge. "We're trying to get everybody going. Ackley had some success leading off before, so we'll get him back up there. Ichiro in the two-hole is a different look for him and us. We're just trying to exhaust everything as we try to get out of this funk we're in."
Ichiro entered Saturday's game in an 0-for-21 slump, and has hit .237 with a .255 on-base percentage in 31 games in the leadoff role. For the season, he's hitting .258 with a .286 OBP, both career lows.
The normally slump-proof Ichiro has had two of his longest hitless streaks in the last five weeks. In his dozen years with the Mariners, he's only had three stretches of 20-plus at-bats without a hit, and two of those have come since June 2.
Wedge doesn't expect a dramatic change in approach from the veteran from Japan, but figures a different look can't hurt.
"Ichiro does what Ichiro does," Wedge said. "But I'm hoping the different look and Ackley ahead of him, and maybe there'll be more situational things that will help him, too."
Ackley has hit .128 in his last 15 games, and is presumably among the young veterans Wedge said could be sent down to Triple-A Tacoma when the team reevaluates its situation over the upcoming All-Star break. But Wedge wants to see what he does when back in the leadoff role.
"I liked him up there," Wedge said. "He hasn't done anything to deserve to be up there right now, but I'm just trying to think outside the box and get him back up there and hopefully get him going a little bit."
As for impending changes? Wedge sounded again Saturday like he's at the end of his rope on waiting for some of the youngsters to produce.
"The bottom line, everybody has to do their job," he said. "Everybody is up here getting paid good money to produce and help us win ballgames, and that's just not happening."
Wilhelmsen's scoreless streak still intact
OAKLAND -- Tom Wilhelmsen gave up his first blown save in Friday's 2-1, 11-inning loss to the A's, but the Mariners new closer didn't lose his scoreless innings streak that ranks among the longest in team history.
Manager Eric Wedge brought Wilhelmsen in with two outs and the tying run on second in the eighth inning, and he surrendered an RBI single up the middle by Jemile Weeks that ultimately sent the game into extra innings.
The run was charged to Oliver Perez, who gave up the double, with the blown save being Wilhelmsen's first in eight opportunities since he replaced Brandon League in the closers role last month.
Wilhelmsen then got out of that inning and worked a scoreless ninth as well, extending his own shutout streak to 21 consecutive innings. That ranks fifth on the Mariners all-time list for relievers behind Shigetoshi Hasegawa (28 2/3 in 2003), Edwin Nunez (24 in 1985), Charlie Furbush (22 2/3 earlier this season) and J.J. Putz (22 in 2007).
Going into Saturday's games, Wilhelmsen was tied with the Rangers' Robbie Ross for the second-longest active scoreless streak in the American League, trailing only the Angels' Ernesto Frieri (26 1/3).
Wilhelmsen is tied for second among AL relievers for strikeouts (52) and innings pitched (44 1/3).
Gutierrez improving, Montero still not in lineup
OAKLAND -- Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who is on the disabled list with a concussion, was feeling better on Saturday, but still remains more than a week away from rejoining the club, manager Eric Wedge said.
Gutierrez is on his second seven-day concussion DL stint after getting hit in the head with a pick-off throw by Boston's Franklin Morales on June 29. He would be eligible to return on July 13, the first game after the All-Star break, but Wedge indicated that won't likely happen based on discussions with trainer Rick Griffin.
"Today was his best day," Wedge said. "Talking to Rick, he felt better today than he has. It'll still be a stretch to get him back right after the All-Star break because he's probably going to have to go out and play a couple games [on a Minor League rehab stint].
"He hasn't done anything. So we've got to get him cleared first, and then he can start doing baseball activities."
Meanwhile, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was out of the lineup on Saturday for the second straight game after suffering a concussion of his own on Wednesday, when he took a foul ball off his mask.
Montero did take batting practice on Saturday for the first time since the blow to his head and will be reevaluated on Sunday. Wedge said he definitely won't catch in Sunday's game, the last outing before the All-Star break, but perhaps would be the designated hitter if he's cleared.
• Catcher Adam Moore was claimed off of waivers by the Royals on Saturday. Moore, 28, was designated for assignment on Sunday to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Josh Kinney. Moore played 68 games for Seattle from 2009-11, but missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury after getting hurt in his second game of the season.
• Casper Wells' single in the first inning on Friday snapped a string of 29 first-inning at-bats without a hit by the Mariners, the longest streak in the Majors this season.
• The Mariners team batting average was .230 going into Saturday's game, which would be the second-lowest average at the All-Star break in franchise history. They were hitting .225 at the break last year.