SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners are determined to run their young players onto the field this season and see what they can contribute.
Wednesday night, they were the focal point during and after a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Rookie Carlos Peguero drove home t
wo runs with a bouncing ball off the second base bag in the seventh inning and Greg Halman homered in the eighth.
Halman was getting a beer shower in the clubhouse when the Mariners made an announcement that’s been expected for a while.
They will call up second base prospect Dustin Ackley from Class AAA Tacoma, and he’s expected to play Friday night when the Mariners host the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ackley was batting .303 with Tacoma and, by all reports, playing well in the field in only his second season at second base.
“It’s time to get him up here,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s ready to be up here. Ackley is a guy we feel strongly about. We like his bat and he’s made tremendous strides at second base.”
To make room for Ackley on the roster, the Mariners will option backup infielder Luis Rodriguez to Tacoma.
The Mariners have been looking for someone to instill more life into their offense, and Wednesday they moved Peguero, a 24-year-old rookie, to the fourth spot in the batting order hoping his power might produce a big hit.
What he did in the seventh inning was hardly a jolt of power, but it was huge in terms of the timing.
The Mariners, held without a run since the fifth inning of the series opener Monday, weren’t having any luck Wednesday against Angels starter Ervin Santana. They nicked him for six hits through six innings but couldn’t manage a timely knock in their four chances with runners in scoring position.
It appeared the Mariners were headed down that path again in the seventh after Chone Figgins led off with a double and Jack Wilson dropped a sacrifice bunt that moved him to third.
Santana intentionally walked Ichiro Suzuki before Santana struck out Brendan Ryan. Suzuki stole second on the final pitch of that at-bat, giving the Angels the chance to intentionally walk Justin Smoak, who had walked and doubled off Santana in his first two at-bats, and face Peguero, who’d struck out and popped up twice.
Santana had Peguero in a bind early, getting two quick strikes on him. Peguero worked his way back to a 2-2 count and fouled off a couple of pitches before bouncing a ball up the middle.
Shortstop Erick Aybar, playing Peguero up the middle, appeared in perfect position to make the play for the third out, but the ball bounced off the bag and into left field. Figgins and Suzuki scored for a 2-0 Mariners lead.
“That was a tough AB against a good pitcher,” Wedge said. “We had a little luck on our side there. We’ll take that when we can get it.”
The two runs set up Mariners starter Erik Bedard for a long-awaited victory. He held the Angels to three hits in seven shutout innings and, thanks to the Mariners’ late production, pushed his record to 4-4 with a 3.16 earned run average. In his past nine starts, Bedard is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA.
It didn’t become official for Bedard, however, until more late-inning drama.
Reliever David Pauley gave up two walks and Aybar’s RBI single to cut the Mariners’ lead to 2-1 in the eighth. But Halman homered in the bottom of the eighth and closer Brandon League pitched around a one-out single by Howie Kendrick to record his league-leading 19th save.
And, for those paying attention to the standings, the Mariners moved within one game of the American League West Division-leading Texas Rangers, who lost at New York.
Friday, a new chapter in the Mariners’ youth movement opens with the arrival of Ackley.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves offensively,” Wedge said. “We think Ackley’s going to be a part of that.”
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog and follow his Twitter updates at @kirbyarnold.