By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
SEATTLE — All saves are not equal, at least to the Seattle Mariners reliever who is the team leader.
Tom Wilhelmsen, in his second big-league season, has saved 11 games for the Mariners since succeeding Brandon League in the job in early June.
Do some mean more than others?
“The last three and the first two, I was pretty fired up about,” Wilhelmsen said. “The one (Tuesday) against the Yankees was special. Any time you hold a one or two-run lead against a contending team, that’s special.”
The job itself is emotional, and Wilhelmsen said there’s no role in baseball quite like it.
“Getting the last out of a game your team wins, that’s a high you don’t get from anything else,” Wilhelmsen said. “I’m not big on on-field celebrations. I like the intensity of getting that final out, and I want it to last more than 14 pitches.”
Often, after a save, Wilhelmsen will drive home and talk to his wife, Cassie, and neither has trouble keeping it in perspective.
“Four years ago, I was playing co-ed softball and tending bar,” Wilhelmsen said. “Do I think about that now? All the time. I never had to battle someone at the height of their profession.
“Now I do it every time I come into the game.”
Since June 4, when he picked up his first career save, Wilhelmsen has saved 11 of 12 opportunities and not allowed an earned run in a save situation.
Perez throws strikes
Considering veteran Oliver Perez once walked more batters than he struck out in a season, it’s been something of a surprise this season that he’s thrown 72 percent of his pitches for strikes.
“I treat every batter I face as if there were two outs and men on base,” the left-hander said. “I have to throw strikes — good strikes, but strikes. I can’t afford to fall behind.”
So he rarely has. In 14 relief appearances, the non-roster spring invitee has compiled a 2.77 earned run average, walked four and struck out 14.
Franklin Gutierrez passed all his tests and has been cleared to resume physical activity. What’s the timing on his comeback? “Basically, we’re starting over,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He’ll have to get back into baseball activity a little at a time again.” … Kyle Seager’s 60 RBI lead the Mariners — by plenty. The next highest total on the roster belongs to Jesus Montero, who has 38. … Charlie Furbush, on the disabled list since July 18 with a triceps strain, played catch for the second day in a row Wednesday and felt no discomfort. He’ll likely throw a bullpen session some time this weekend, then a simulated game. Whether he requires a minor league rehabilitation assignment remains to be seen. … Collecting three hits Wednesday shouldn’t have stunned Mariners fans. In 32 day games this year, the Mariners are batting .202.
Larry LaRue, The News Tribune