Eric Wedge was clearly on the minds of several Mariners before and after tonight’s 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians, which ran their current streak to seven in a row. That’s one shy of the eight they won in a row last August, but clearly, the opponents in this streak have been of higher-caliber.
The Indians were fighting for first place coming in and had not given up a home run in 88 straight innings before Kendrys Morales and Mike Zunino took Ubaldo Jimenez deep.
Wedge will remain hospitalized overnight while a series of tests are run to find out why he suffered from dizzy spells on the field during batting practice. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told me he hopes Wedge will be released at some point tomorrow morning, but noody knows for sure yet.
Zduriencik had met with the players pregame to deliver the news about Wedge and update them on his condition.
“Some guys knew what happened and saw what happened and some guys had no clue,’’ Zunino said of Wedge. “I heard some guys talking about it. I didn’t get to see anything. But we got some reassurance afterwards saying that everything was good and it was just sort of precautionary and that everything was fine. But it was one of those where obviously, everybody wants to get going and show we could still play and do one for him.’’
Mariners starter Aaron Harang didn’t find out about Wedge until Zduriencik held the meeting.
“It kind of threw me back for a minute when I heard the news,’’ he said. “We’re just glad he’s feeling all right. It was good to keep the win streak going.’’
Harang did his part in this one, keeping the Indians off the scoreboard in the third and fourth innings as they tried to add to a 1-0 lead. The pitching has taken somewhat of a backseat to some explosive offense during this run, but the last few starts have helped the team through spots where the offense wasn’t always at its finest.
“We go out there and you kind of want to match what the guy did the night before,’’ Harang said of his fellow starting pitchers. “That’s how you get on good streaks. It’s just that competitiveness in the clubhouse. But we’re also going out there trying to help our team win.
“I mean, all around guys have been swinging well, the defense has been playing well and the pitching has been there. That’s what it takes to get on streaks like this and hopefully we can keep this going.’’
Bench coach Robby Thompson had to man the dugout on short-notice tonight, which is never an easy thing to do.
Thompson said the pregame meeting helped focus the players. He also said the suject of those prior losses in Cleveland — three of them on walkoff finishes — was brought up in individual hitter and pitcher meetings.
“They probably didn’t have to be told or have it mentioned to them,’’ Thompson said. “But we went through it. We lived it there in Cleveland. Another close ballgame, but good for us. We came out on the winning side of things.’’
Not without some nervousness, though.
Both teams combined to go 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position and it was the Indians who had the last shot at ending that streak, when a double and a walk allowed by Tom Wilhelmsen put runners at the corners with two out in the ninth. Wilhelmsen had helped extend that May losing streak by failing to hold on to a ball tossed his way at first base during the finale of the series in Cleveland.
He also blew some high-profile save chances that could have gotten the Mariners a lot closer to .500 more than a month ago had they been executed.
So, in the ninth tonight, nothing seemed secure until the final out.
Thompson had left Raul Ibanez in left field that final inning, when Wedge usually would have replaced him for defensive purposes. I asked Thompson whether, once Wilhelmsen put that second man on in the ninth, he was leaning on pitching coach Carl Willis for advice about what to consider doing next.
“We’re leaning heavily on Tom Wilhelmsen,” Thompson said, drawing some laughs.
And this time it worked out, despite some initial groans from the crowd when a flyball to right left the bat of Lonnie Chisenhall. But the groans were quickly replaced by cheers when the crowd realized the ball wasn’t going anyplace deep and the game was over.
A break for the Mariners? Why not? They need a few more to offset stuff that’s gone against them so far.
For now, they’ll try to offset the eight-game losing streak tomorrow night.