09/13/12 12:18 AM ET
Wilhelmsen bringing heat to closer role
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Wilhelmsen was back at it Wednesday, firing a perfect ninth to seal the Mariners' 3-2 win for his 26th save, which moved him into a tie for the 12th-best season in club history.
Entering Wednesday, Wilhelmsen had posted a 1.62 ERA since replacing Brandon League, and his 18 saves since July 21 are the second most in the Majors behind the Reds' Aroldis Chapman in that span.
The hard-throwing right-hander acknowledged before Wednesday's game that reaching the 25-save mark was significant to him.
"Absolutely," he said. "They're all pretty meaningful."
But even as he's growing into the closer's role, the 28-year-old said he hasn't really changed anything in his approach.
"As far as the game goes, I don't think my mental level has changed much," he said. "Every single outing matters -- whether it's the seventh, eighth or ninth inning -- especially a year and a half into my career. So I just attack it all the same way. I haven't really had time to think about what it is to be a closer or whatever. I'm still trying to figure out what I do."
Wilhelmsen is a pretty relaxed individual away from the field, but he ratchets up his intensity on the mound. He said that adrenaline rush is something so unique that he's learned to harbor it even after games end.
"I really enjoy it, so I try to hang on to it as long as I can," he said. "On a good day, it only lasts five or 10 minutes out on the field. And, of course, there are the minutes leading up to it when you're warming up and you know the situation. But I don't know. It's definitely different than any other feeling I've ever had."
According to manager Eric Wedge, that drive is a big part of Wilhelmsen's successful makeup.
"He is very laid back and kind of just rolls with it," Wedge said. "But what you see when he's out there competing is a focused intensity that is real and allows him to thrive in that role."
Has Wedge ever had a closer who didn't have that intensity?
"Not very long, to be honest," Wedge said. "If you're going to sustain the closer's role, you've got to have the right heartbeat and temperament and attitude toward it. There's a degree of thick skin and toughness that has to go along with it."
Wedge to give Erasmo at least one more start
TORONTO -- It took rookie Erasmo Ramirez most of the season to record his first Major League victory, but the 22-year-old will get the chance to add to that total in the final three weeks of the season, manager Eric Wedge said Wednesday.
The Mariners are trying to work Ramirez and Hector Noesi into the rotation as September callups, and Ramirez took advantage of his first opportunity with seven innings of two-run ball in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays.
"He'll get another start or two, it's just a matter of when we plug him in," Wedge said. "Obviously, he was impressive the way he threw the ball last night against what I consider a pretty good lineup. So we'll see him another time or two."
Ramirez took Blake Beavan's turn in the rotation Tuesday, with Beavan pushed back to Sunday in Texas. After Beavan closes out the current road trip, the Mariners will have 15 contests remaining.
Wedge said Noesi would likely get his shot in next week's homestand against the Orioles or Rangers, but he didn't commit to more than one start for the former Yankees right-hander.
For now, Noesi is available out of the bullpen, which provides some added depth to a group that Wedge has leaned on considerably to match up in late-inning situations. On Tuesday, he used four relievers to get through the eighth inning and to closer Tom Wilhelmsen after replacing Ramirez.
"Obviously, we were really matching up in the eighth," Wedge said. "One of the luxuries of having some length in the bullpen is if it winds up tied and going into extra innings, you've got somebody down there that can pitch for a little while. Otherwise, you've got to be a little more careful than I was, but we were able to do that and it worked out good."
Seager continues to knock in runs aplenty
TORONTO -- With his two RBIs in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays, third baseman Kyle Seager became just the fourth player in Mariners history to record 80 or more RBIs in one of the first two seasons of his career.
Seager is in his second year in the Majors after playing 53 games last season. His 81 RBIs put him in pretty elite company, as he joins Alvin Davis (116 as a rookie in 1984), Jim Presley (84 in his second year in 1985) and Ken Griffey Jr. (80 in his second year in 1990).
Since 2008, only four other American League players have notched 80-plus RBIs in one of the first two years of their careers -- Mark Trumbo of the Angels (2011), Evan Longoria of the Rays (2008-09) and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers (2008).
"The way he's swinging the bat, he's really figuring it out," said manager Eric Wedge. "He's been a good run producer for us. He's had big hits at big times."
The majority of those big hits have come on the road. Going into Wednesday's game, Seager had 57 of his 81 RBIs and 14 of his 18 home runs in away games. He's hit .288 on the road and .214 at Safeco Field.
Seager totaled 13 RBIs in 182 at-bats last year as a rookie. This year he's at 81 in 507 at-bats. He is the first Mariners player to surpass 50 RBIs on the road since Jose Lopez racked up 56 in 2009.
When center fielder Franklin Gutierrez committed his first error Tuesday after 301 mistake-free games, it ended his American League record of 846 consecutive outfield chances without an error. The previous AL mark was 723 by Darin Erstad. Darren Lewis still holds the Major League record at 938 chances.
Left-handed-hitting first baseman Mike Carp was in Wednesday's lineup even against Ricky Romero, the one southpaw Toronto is starting in this three-game series. Wedge noted Carp has hit lefties relatively well in his career, but he also wants to take further advantage of these final weeks now that Carp is back from his third disabled-list stint.
"Obviously, he's missed so much time this year, we're just trying to give him a little more playing time," said Wedge.
The Mariners' Double-A Jackson team beat Mobile, 8-1, in the first game of the Southern League Championship Series on Tuesday, as James Paxton struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings. Catcher Mike Zunino went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three runs, while Johermyn Chavez hit a grand slam.