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Mariners' closer Wilhelmsen has a goal: 30 saves

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By Larry LaRue
The News Tribune
SEATTLE -- 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 say in another situation.
On Sunday, for instance, Wilhelmsen came in 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 allowed a run, walking Kendry Morales, who took second base on indifference, then scored on a two-out single by Howie Kendrick.
"I didn't want to lose the shutout, but what really irritated me was that I'd walked the guy," 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 close 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: 30 saves.
Life in the stands
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson was at it again Sunday, flying into the stands along the left field foul line 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, dove 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.
Short hops
Franklin Gutierrez played his 296th consecutive errorless game in center field Sunday, dating back to Aug. 21, 2009. ... Going into Sunday's games, Seattle's minor league teams had set a franchise record for combined record (492-402), and led all major league farm systems with wins and winning percentage (.550). ... Rookie Jesus Montero is batting .259, and on Sunday had his 31st multi-hit game of the season. ... The Mariners' two home runs at Safeco Field against Jered Weaver marked just the ninth time in 66 home games the Mariners have hit that many.

Larry LaRue, The News Tribune
Story tags » Mariners

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