Here is today’s Mariners lineup:
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
63 Jesus Montero C
27 John Jaso (L) DH
55 Michael Saunders (L) LF
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
10 Eric Thames (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
45 Hector Noesi RHP
And here is Baltimore’s lineup:
9 Nate McLouth LF
2 J.J. Hardy SS
19 Chris Davis DH
10 Adam Jones CF
32 Matt Wieters C
12 Mark Reynolds 1B
13 Manny Machado 3B
27 Endy Chavez RF
11 Robert Andino 2B
30 Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.39)
As you can see, Eric Wedge is sticking with his regulars, even though he has September callups like Alex Liddi, Carlos Triunfel and Luis Jimenez at his disposal. Wedge says that even though he’ll sprinkle in a callup now and then, he’s going to stay with his regular lineup for the most part over the final 15 games.
The motivation seems to be two-fold — an obligation to put up the best fight possible against contenders (and the Mariners play nothing but those the rest of the way); and a desire to win as many games as possible. That, and maybe a third motivation: Loyalty to the players who have weathered an up and down a season.
“We are going to put out our best lineup,” Wedge said. “That doesn’t mean we aren’t still going to play some of these young kids, because on a particular day, we feel that might be it. But you see what we’ve been doing. We’re pretty consistent with the guys we’re playing. We’ve mixed in a few guys here and there. We’re seeing this all the way to the end.
Wedge said the commitment to the players who have been here “means something. The guys have been grinding through this all year, the guys who have been up here most of the year and gone through the ups and downs. It says a lot about how you finish the season and how you play toward the end. Whether you win or lose, how you go about your business means more than anything. I’m proud of the way they’ve been going about their business. We have 15 games left, and I expect them to keep doing the same thing.”
After these three with the Orioles, the Mariners have series with the Rangers, Angels, A’s, and Angels again. Those games could have significant impact on the playoff race for all those teams, which serves as motivation for the Mariners, as well.
“I think there’s more of a buzz out on the field, just because it’s a little bit different,” Wedge said. “But in regard to the way these guys have gone about their business, I’ve been proud of the way they’ve handled themselves, because regardless of who we’re playing, they’re showing up and getting after it.
“There are some games perceived as more meaningful than others, because quite frankly, they are. But from our standpoint, every game, every win, means something to us. I know they do for other teams too, but as we’re building this thing and moving forward, every win means something. It’s just for the progress. These guys have handled themselves very well. No one is looking at the finish line. I don’t sense that at all. They’re all focused on today.”
And today, the Mariners will be facing Chris Tillman, who of course was, along with Adam Jones, part of the ill-fated Erik Bedard trade. Tillman has had his way with the Mariners. In three career starts, he is 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA. He’s faced them twice this year and is 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA.