SEATTLE — Veteran Mariners right-hander Chris Young, who endured years of shoulder miseries, placed no importance Wednesday in reaching double figures in victories for the first time in eight years.
Young improved to 10-6 when the bullpen worked four scoreless innings in closing out a 7-3 victory over Atlanta at Safeco Field.
“Maybe early in my career,” he said, “that is something I’d get excited about. But at this point…wins are so far beyond a pitcher’s control.
“To evaluate your season based on wins or losses…you can’t caught up in wins and losses as a starting pitcher. One day, the media will stop evaluating us on that.”
That latter line, characteristically, was delivered gently with a smile.
The Mariners are quick to point to Young’s importance.
“He’s been a Godsend to this rotation,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Not only has he given us innings. He’s given us a nice veteran presence.”
The Mariners didn’t acquire Young until March 27 when they signed him as a free agent in a scramble to replace veteran lefty Randy Wolf in an injury-depleted rotation.
Wolf’s refusal to sign an advance-consent clause regarding his contract prompted the Mariners to release him. Young agreed to the clause as a opportunity to test his recovery from his latest surgery.
Saunders heading out
Plans call for outfielder Michael Saunders to start a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Tacoma when the Rainiers open a five-game series against Fresno (Giants) at Cheney Stadium.
“He’ll DH to start with,” McClendon said. “We’ll try to get him five, six or seven (innings).”
Saunders suffered a strained left oblique on a swing in a July 10 game at Minnesota. He was batting .276 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 65 games while compiling a .327 on-base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage.
How soon could he return?
“It depends on his physical capabilities,” McClendon said. “How he bounces back. But he’s got to be swinging well. I don’t want you wasting at-bats here. If you’re going to waste them, waste them in a rehab start.”
Bloomquist evaluating options
Injured utilityman Willie Bloomquist is seeking additional medical evaluations in an effort to determine why he is recovering slowly from a bruised right knee.
Bloomquist suffered the injury July 23 and admitted Tuesday that he’s not yet close to be able to jog. McClendon acknowledged Bloomquist is likely to be ready for active duty in the near future.
“Not good,” McClendon said. “He’s getting his second opinion. There’s a chance he may have to do something to get it taken care of. He just has not progressed to the point where we think he’s going to be ready any time soon.”
That “something,” McClendon said, could include arthroscopic surgery or extended rest.
Taylor steps up
Rookie shortstop Chris Taylor, for now anyway, appears to have grabbed hold of a starting job. He has hits in all eight of his starts and has displayed sound defense.
“He’s performing well,” McClendon said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s playing solid defense. Brad (Miller) will get in there from time to time but, right, now, Taylor is going to play a little bit more.”
Taylor is batting .367 after going 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in Wednesday’s 7-3 victory over the Braves. He has started eight of 12 games since his July 24 promotion from Tacoma, where he batted .328 in 75 games.
Miller is batting .199 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 90 games.
Felix Hernandez added to his major-league record in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over the Braves by pitching at least seven innings for a 15 straight start while allowing two or fewer runs.
That’s two games longer than Tom Seaver’s previous record of 13 straight starts in 1971 for the New York Mets.
Hernandez also tied a major-league record set in 1974 by Gaylord Perry in holding an opponent to two or fewer earned runs in 15 straight starts while pitching at least seven innings.
It was five years ago Thursday — Aug. 7, 2009 — that Ken Griffey Jr. punctuated Ken Griffey Jr. Bobblehead Night by hitting his 623rd career homer in a 7-6 victory over Tampa Bay in 11 innings at Safeco Field.
That game was also notable because:
*Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-5 for the 603rd multi-hit game in what was then the ninth season of his career. That broke Rogers Hornsby’s record for a nine-year span since the end of the Dead Ball Era (1920).
*Ryan Langerhans won the game with a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer in the 11th against reliever J.P. Howell after the Rays took a one-run lead in the top of the inning on a Jason Bartlett homer against Shawn Kelley.
The Mariners open a four-game weekend series against the Chicago White Sox at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field.
Rookie left-hander Roenis Elias (8-9 with a 4.19 ERA) will oppose Chicago right-hander Scott Carroll (4-6, 4.36). Root Sports will telecast the game.
The series continues Friday and Saturday nights before concluding Sunday afternoon. Toronto arrives Monday for a three-game series that completes the homestand.