Tom Wilhelmsen came on to work the eighth against the righty-heavy part of the Angels order and it backfired two pitches in. After landing a curveball for a called strike, Wilhelmsen’s next pitch was hit over the right field wall by Albert Pujols to tie the game 2-2.
I know what Wedge was thinking. But Wilhelmsen did not look particularly good his first time out in Oakland after being removed of closer duties. This was a tight spot to put him in. And it did not work.
9:52 p.m.: Jeremy Bonderman danced through six innings of one-run ball, using the defense behind him to escape numerous jams. Oliver Perez then got out of a seventh-inning jam with a runner on second and only one out — striing out Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton.
So, it’s on to the eighth with the Mariners up 2-1. Will be interesting to see how manager Eric Wedge uses his bullpen the final two innings.
Joe Blanton struck out a career high 11 batters in his 6 2/3 innings tonight. The Mariners desperately need some add-on runs with this uncertain bullpen of theirs.
7:45 p.m.: Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back solo homers to right field off Joe Blanton in the second inning to open the scoring. Mark Trumbo then countered in the bottom of the frame, but the Mariners still have a 2-1 lead. Smoak’s homer came in his first at-bat since returning from the DL and also from the same left side he’d had trouble with because of his oblique injury.
6:35 p.m.: We’ve talked about it before, but if the Mariners want to keep this goal of a .500 season intact, they will have to come out of this road trip with a winning record. Fall to 10 games under and they’re pretty much toast. Right now, they’re at nine under .500 with three games left on this trip.
Time for the Mariners to surprise people by taking two of three. Three of three would be real good, but, well, baby steps with this bunch. They aren’t calling Dustin Ackley up yet to play the outfield, so apparently, they are convinced the guys on-hand can get it done.
Time to prove it.