SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge wasn't ready to make a change at closer in the immediate aftermath of their 6-1 loss at the hands of the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
But after yet another blown save by Tom Wilhelmsen, Wedge is being forced to re-evaluate his options.
Wilhelmsen (0-2) allowed the Astros to score five runs in the ninth inning while recording just one out on a sacrifice bunt. Wilhelmsen has struggled immensely for Seattle over the last few weeks. Since earning his 11th save of the year in a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on May 16, Wilhelmsen has struggled to control his pitches. He's worked just one clean inning in his last 11 appearances and has blown four saves in his last nine opportunities.
Wilhelmsen had converted his last four save opportunities and appeared to be getting back on the right track with his command.
That was before Wednesday night.
Wilhelmsen entered for the ninth inning after Seattle managed to scratch out an unearned run to take a 1-0 lead over the Houston Astros. But control problems resurfaced as Wilhelmsen struggled to find the strike zone.
"I felt great tonight with the exception of not being able to throw a curveball for a strike," Wilhelmsen said.
When he did find the strike zone, the pitches were up and over the plate allowing the Astros to take advantage.
"We've got to get Tom driving the ball downstairs — missing down," Wedge said.
Wedge wasn't willing to commit to a change in closer but did say it's something they are being forced to look at more carefully.
"Tom Wilhelmsen is still our closer standing here right now," Wedge said. "The game just got over. Anything we do will involve a lot of conversation. We will make sure we do the right thing for the right reasons for this club and for each individual on this club."
The Mariners offense had been stymied by Astros starter Jordan Lyles for seven innings before finally scratching out a run against Houston's bullpen in the eighth. Endy Chavez singled to lead off the eighth inning. Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez picked up an error when he dropped the throw from Hector Ambriz on a bunt from Jason Bay that would have been in time to beat Chavez at second base.
After a pop out from Kyle Seager and strikeout by Raul Ibanez, Seager lined a single to right to drive in Chavez and give the Mariners their only run.
The Astros then rallied against Wilhelmsen in the ninth. Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez led off with a pair of singles and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Carlos Corporan. After an intentional walk of Carlos Pena, Chris Carter doubled off the wall in left field to score a pair and give the Astros their first lead of the game. Another intentional walk loaded the bases again and brought the hook for Wilhelmsen.