08/01/10 2:41 PM ET
Wakamatsu: Foes pitching to Ichiro differently
By Jim Street / MLB.com
"You look at our offense and [opponents] may be pitching him a little different," Wakamatsu said. "He's the only .300 hitter in the lineup and he normally doesn't walk, so they are forcing him to swing at pitches a little farther out of the zone than he normally does."
Ichiro is coming off one of the toughest months of his career, batting only .246 in July. It was the first time since September 2008 that he did not bat at least .300 -- a streak of nine consecutive months.
"I see him fouling off a lot more pitches than I did last year," Wakamatsu said. "Not because he is missing, but because the pitches are not as good as he was afforded last year, in my opinion."
Unlike most teams, especially in the offensive-minded American League, the Mariners do not have a plethora of power hitters in the middle of the lineup. So opposing pitchers can go outside the strike zone against Ichiro and, even if he walks, the chances of him scoring are low.
Ichiro has scored 42 runs this season and probably will record the lowest total during his 10 Major League seasons. He scored 88 runs last season after topping the 100 mark each year from 2001-08.
"I do believe that teams pitch according to their bubble-gum card," Wakamatsu said. "If you walk him in a certain situation and are not intimidated by the meat of the order, and I think that's the case, they are going to pitch him a little bit tougher."
With borrowed gear, Tui returns to Mariners
MINNEAPOLIS -- Except for his own bat, just about everything Matt Tuiasosopo used during Saturday night's game against the Twins was borrowed.
The glove belonged to Mariners teammate Jose Lopez.
The pants were Justin Smoak's.
The shoes were sent over from the Twins' clubhouse.
Tui's first game after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma had some rough spots. His suitcase and bat bag accompanied him from Fresno, Calif., but his equipment bag did not for the first time in his career.
"When we landed and all the bags had been unloaded, my bag wasn't there," Tuiasosopo said. "The first thing I did was call [Mariners director of travel] Ron Spellecy and told him about it.
"He said, 'What? You're supposed to be starting tonight.'"
Accompanied by reliever Sean White, Tuiasosopo took a cab to Target Field, put on his borrowed gear and went 0-for-3 in the Mariners' 4-0 loss.
"It's good to be back," the Woodinville High product said of his third stint with the Mariners this season. "I went down with the idea of working hard to get back up here. It was good to play every day and get my rhythm back."
Tuiasosopo left a Rainiers team that leads their division in the Pacific Coast League to rejoin a team that just tied a franchise record for the most losses in a month.
"It's tough to leave a team that's winning and having a lot of fun," he said, "but the big leagues is where you want to be. My goal is to help this team win some games."
With his own equipment.
The airline located the missing equipment bag and had it sent to Minneapolis.
"They tracked it down and found out that it started in Fresno, went to Dallas and then to Los Angeles," Tuiasosopo said.
Wilson attributes streak to weather, health
MINNEAPOLIS -- The reputation shortstop Jack Wilson brought with him from the Pirates last season has been on display lately.
Going into Sunday's series finale against the Twins, Wilson had not made an error in 76 chances since July 17. He attributes the streak to warmer weather and better health.
"Now that it's warmer, it's easier on the hamstrings," Wilson said. "When I came back [from the disabled list], it was warmer and I was able to lose some weight."
Wilson said his eating habits were good during his May 12-June 19 stay on the DL, but he still gained "seven or eight" pounds because he wasn't active.
"That's a lot for a middle infielder," Wilson said.
Playing every day in warm weather enabled him to get back to his 195-pound playing weight.
Left fielder Michael Saunders went into Sunday's game having reached base in 19 of his past 20 games and is batting .293 over that stretch. ... For the 27th consecutive game, Wakamatsu used a different lineup than he did for the previous contest. ... Closer David Aardsma registered just two saves in July, giving him 18 for the season, but he had only two save chances. ... The Mariners went into Sunday's series finale needing a win to avoid an 0-7 road trip. The last time Seattle was swept on the road was Sept. 11-21, 2008, when it suffered 11 losses through Anaheim, Kansas City and Oakland. In road trips lasting five games or more, the Mariners have won at least one game in all but 10 trips.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.