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Mariners notebook: Wilhelmsen to remain in closer role for now

Seattle Mariners' Tom Wilhelmsen delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Tuesday in Seattle. The Mariners won 6-5. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

It was good to see the bullpen come through Tuesday night.

With Mike Montgomery unable to get out of the second inning and an early five-run deficit the pen was leaned on heavily and they answered the call.

Edgar Olmos a day after throwing 17 pitches bounced back and gave them three and 2/3 scoreless innings earning his first big league win. Logan Kensing held down the fort for another inning and two thirds then Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen took them the rest of the way preserving the one run lead.

Smith and Wilhelmsen, in that order. It was the second straight win where Smith entered the game in the seventh inning with two outs and pitched the ninth and was followed by Wilhelmsen. It is a combination, in that order, that we will see more of according to Lloyd McClendon. For now, Wilhelmsen is the closer.

“As we speak, yes,” he said. “He’s done a nice job. Sometimes when you take a step back you learn from your past. He seems very comfortable, he’s not overwhelmed. His breathing, his pace out there, ability to execute pitches has been very impressive.”

The move has been good for Smith as well, for similar reasons. McClendon acknowledged that he does look different earlier in the game.

“His pace has slowed down,” he said. “He’s a lot more relaxed.”

I think we have seen that the ninth inning is nothing like the seventh or eighth, particularly to a young player without much experience in the role. Smith may be facing the same batters in the seventh than he was in the ninth, but the results have been better.

“I don’t now if it’s a pressure thing or maybe getting too hyped up,” McClendon said. “He too will learn from this and he’ll be better as a result.”

A step back for Smith to catch his breath and a step forward for Wilhelmsen to once again help the team at the end of games. It’s working for now.

Lineup

Marte 6
Seager 5
Cruz 9
Cano 4
Smith 7
Trumbo DH
Morrison 3
Miller 8
Sucre 2

Felix

Notes:

-The Mariners have announced Roenis Elias will start Thursday in Chicago. Vidal Nuno goes back to the pen and is available to pitching in relief today.

“Nuno is a swing guy, he’ll swing for us,” McClendon said. “He may start again.”

-No decision has been made on what to do with Mike Montgomery who has given up 37 runs in his last 40 innings pitched. He was scheduled to start Sunday in Chicago but that spot in the rotation is now listed as TBA.

-Brad Miller is making his second career start in center today. With the Mariners taking a long look at Ketel Marte at short Miller is seeing more and more time in the outfield. McClendon likes what he has seen.

“He’s very athletic,” he said. “He almost got a ball yesterday I’m not sure a lot of left fielders would come close. He’s intriguing. I just want to see him all over the outfield, see what he can do.”

“Let’s not forget Brad can play shortstop too,” he continued. “Marte can play center field. This is just part of the evaluation process. You will probably see Marte at center field too.”

-Joe Beimel will throw a bullpen Friday in Chicago and should be ready for a rehab outing early next week.