Wedge's confidence in Wilhelmsen unmoved
SEATTLE -- Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen endured his third blown save in his last four chances in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Twins, but manager Eric Wedge is sticking with the hard-throwing right-hander.
Wilhelmsen responded by notching his 13th save in Monday's 4-2 win against the White Sox, allowing a run in the final frame but still managing to hold on to close out the victory.
"This was pretty important," Wilhelmsen said. "You've just got to battle through your struggles and it felt pretty good, as I have in the past. It's just nice to see for once things go the right way in the ninth for a little bit."
"The other night it was just location," Wedge said before Monday's game. "He just wasn't hitting his spots, he fell behind and we've never really seen that from him before. It was just one of those days where he was just off. He was unable to find it. Having said that, he was still one pitch from getting a save."
Wedge has been criticized in some quarters for not getting Wilhelmsen out of Saturday's game after he walked the bases full. He then gave up a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to one, then a two-run walk-off triple. Rookie Yoervis Medina was warming in the bullpen at the end, but Wedge didn't want to bring in the rookie with the bases loaded over a proven closer in Wilhelmsen.
"Somebody made the comment, 'Why didn't you get him out of there after the first two guys walked?'" Wedge said. "That would have meant having somebody up in the bullpen when he walked to the mound. You're not going to do that to your closer who has been one of the best in the game. That's not exactly a confidence booster.
"You've got to let it play out a little bit and you've got to give him a chance to do it. It's not going to always be a clean ninth inning in Major League Baseball. Tommy has just done it quite a bit. You have to remember, the night before he closed with three outs on nine pitches. The previous outing he struggled in San Diego. But he's not too far removed from success. It's just a matter of getting back out there. He's a strong kid."