OAKLAND -- Hector Noesi struggled as a Mariners starter this season, but the young right-hander turned in a third impressive relief outing in Friday's 8-2 loss to the A's.
Noesi mowed down five straight A's in the seventh and eighth innings -- including three strikeouts -- extending his scoreless relief work to 5 2/3 innings since his recall from Triple-A Tacoma in early September. But in his one start this month, Noesi continued his season-long trend of trouble by giving up eight hits and seven runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles on Sept. 17.
Is Noesi proving his future should be in the bullpen, instead of his preferred starting role?
"I don't know, man, but I know this," manager Eric Wedge said on Saturday. "The presence and intensity and aggressiveness that I saw [on Friday], that's the way he has to pitch every time out. He has all the stuff to be a solid big league starter. But he has to have that mentality and approach to do it -- and that should be evident to him by now."
Noesi pitched primarily out of the bullpen last year as a rookie with the Yankees -- when he was 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in his only two starts, but 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA in 28 appearances as a reliever.
After being acquired in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade, Noesi was given a good shot in the Mariners' rotation this season and wound up 2-12 with a 6.24 ERA in 18 outings.
Wedge looking for defense to tighten up
OAKLAND -- After a pair of errors in Friday's 8-2 loss to the A's, the Mariners have committed 12 errors in their last 14 games, a marked drop off from their season-long proficiency with their gloves.
Seattle was second in the Majors with a .988 fielding percentage heading into Saturday, so this streak was definitely uncharacteristic. Manager Eric Wedge wants to see it turn back around in the closing days of the season.
"The last couple weeks, I haven't been pleased with it," Wedge said prior to Saturday's game with the A's. "It's something that's been a cornerstone for us all year, pitching and defense. We all know we need to get better offensively, but you need to come to the ballpark and make sure you can count on what you need to count on."
Wedge noted that some of his young players are in uncharted territory when it comes to playing their first 162-game Major League seasons. He thinks the problem might be more mental than physical.
"You go through phases," Wedge said. "I don't think they're tired. They've done a good job staying on top of things, physically. But you have to make sure you don't let your guard down mentally, either. Some of the mistakes we've made have been somewhat routine plays that haven't been made. So I'm hoping we tighten things up here the last five games."
Michael Saunders hit his 19th home run on Saturday, and is one long ball shy of a 20-home run, 20-stolen base season. The Mariners haven't had a 20-20 man since Mike Cameron in 2002, and it's only been done nine times by five different players in franchise history (Alex Rodriguez 3, Cameron 2, Ken Griffey Jr. 2, Ruppert Jones and Phil Bradley).
When Blake Beavan allowed an unearned run in the fifth inning on Friday, it was the first unearned run he's allowed in his two-year career out of 122 runs.
Sunday's 1:07 p.m. PT game will be broadcast on KTTH 770-AM radio, due to a Seahawks conflict on 710 ESPN Seattle.