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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 24, 2012 at 8:57 PM

Mariners showed some confidence when it was most needed tonight

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Those of you wishing to see more of Comerica Park in Detroit can do so in the video tour I’ve posted above. Hope you enjoy it. A bit windy out, but that just adds to the natural sound right?
Anyhow, the Mariners hung on for a 7-4 win over the Tigers tonight and it took some big-time performances by a handful of players.
Leading the way on offense was Alex Liddi with a home run and two singles in the first three-hit game of his career. Then, you had Michael Saunders with two big, two-out RBI doubles to drive in three runs. That second double was huge as it gave Seattle a three-run lead heading to the ninth against a squad that piles up multiple runs in a hurry.
Ichiro had three hits as well, while Kyle Seager chipped in a pair.
Then, on the mound, you had that man-sized job by Tom Wilhelmsen to get out of the eighth inning after he’d very nearly served up a go-ahead three-run homer to Delmon Young. But the ball hung up in the right-center sky before finally landing in Ichiro’s glove at the track.
Wilhelmsen quipped that the ball’s flight seemed “like two hours — it was quite a bit.”
And he appeared to still be in trouble after falling behind 3-1 to Jhonny Peralta, who fouled the next pitch off. But then, with the count full, Wilhelmsen threw a devastating curve that began out of the strike zone before dropping in at the last second to leave a stunned Peralta staring at strike three.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge agreed that it takes confidence to even throw a pitch like that. He said he didn’t think Wilhelmsen would have had that confidence a year ago.
“It’s not always going to be an easy 1-2-3 situation,” Wedge said. “He was facing some good hitters, had to make some good pitches, had to work his way back in that AB. To drop that breaking ball in there, I don’t think anybody saw that coming. But as you mentioned, you’ve got to have some confidence in your ability, got to trust what you’re doing and that’s what he did.”
Wilhelmsen ended the inningby striking out Alex Avila. Wilhemlsen pounded his chest in sheer joy and relief on the mound right after.
In the clubhouse, he said he trusts his curveball enough to make a pitch like he did to Peralta and knows that it’s something he needs to be able to do.
“In that case, you have to throw a strike so you visualize it happening,” Wilhelmsen said of the curve to Peralta. “Just what I wanted right there.”

Liddi came through big as well, given that he rarely plays and was stepping in for Justin Smoak at the last minute against a right-handed starter who has been tough on the Mariners in his young career.
“I don’t play every day,” Liddi said. “So, every game I play, I just go out there and try to have good at-bats.”
And he did, managing an early infield single, taking a called third strike on a pitch I thought was low and out of the zone, then lining a huge single to left in the fifth that sent Seager from first to third. The run Seager later scored on a groundout was big because the M’s needed a multiple-run lead just to keep pace with the homer-hitting Tigers.
In the end, the 15 hits by the Mariners were just enough. Again, if the wind was blowing a different direction, that Young blast might have left the park. But the Mariners got it done here and needed to, given the events of the past four games.
Liddi is working on his defense and made some nice plays in the field, including that game-ending scoop at first base on the throw that ended the night.
“I’m still working on it,” Liddi said of his defense. “It’s not something that’s going to change from day to night. But I’m getting more comfortable and working at it day-to-day.”
More confident, too. It may not be enough to keep him in the majors once Mike Carp is ready to return.
But tonight, at least, it was enough to get the M’s a win. And enough to make Liddi more than just the first Italian-born-and-raised major leaguer. Tonight, he was just a major leaguer having a great night.
And not too many Mariners have had those so far. Let’s see whether they can keep it up.



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