Ever wonder what a major league closer thinks while trotting to the mound in the final inning of a game?
Tom Wilhelmsen said it has to be something confident, the kind of thing one would never think in another situation.
On Sunday, for instance, Wilhelmsen entered with a 2-0 lead against the Los Angeles Angels and Albert Pujols waiting at the plate. What was Wilhelmsen thinking?
“See you later,” he said, and shook his head.
“You have to come in confident, positive, because anyone you face can hit – that’s why they’re here,” Wilhelmsen said. “There’s pressure on everyone in that situation, but you want to keep it on them. They’re behind.”
Wilhelmsen got Pujols to ground out but walked Kendry Morales, who was replaced by pinch-runner Vernon Wells. Wells took second base on catcher’s indifference, then scored on a two-out single by Howie Kendrick.
Was Wilhelmsen angry?
“I didn’t want to lose the shutout, but what really irritated me was that I’d walked the guy (Morales),” Wilhelmsen said. “Hit me, fine, but I gave a runner to them, I didn’t make them earn it.”
Still, when he got the final out, he’d saved his 22nd game – this for a pitcher who didn’t become the closer until June.
“I’m aware how many I have, but it’s not the focus,” Wilhelmsen said. “Winning the game is the focus. Everything else is a distant second, including personal goals.”
He has one of those goals: 30 saves.
Left fielder Trayvon Robinson was at it again Sunday, flying into the stands in pursuit of a fly ball – and making the catch.
With two outs in the fifth, Maicer Izturis popped up down the line and Robinson, on the run, made a dive into the stands as he gloved the ball.
“He’s fearless, I can tell you that much,” manager Eric Wedge said.
As for life in the stands, Robinson has come to, well, appreciate it.
“Everyone there was asking me if I was all right,” he said. “In a close game, you’ve got to get every out you can.”
Fans, he was told, all seemed pleased to help him back on to the field of play. Robinson grinned.
“They were getting a little free feel or two in,” he said.
Franklin Gutierrez played his 296th consecutive errorless game in center field, dating to Aug. 21, 2009. … Going into Sunday, Seattle’s minor league teams had set a franchise record for combined record (492-402), and led all big league farm systems with wins and winning percentage (.550). … Rookie Jesus Montero, who is batting .259, had his 31st multi-hit game of the season. … The Mariners’ two home runs against Jered Weaver marked the ninth time in 66 home games this season the Mariners have hit that many.
Seattle play host to Boston in a 1:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Boston’s Clay Buchholz (11-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (13-9, 3.90).