Josh Kinney works late for first career save | Mariners Notebook
The Mariners stuck with Josh Kinney in the late innings against Minnesota, and he rewarded them with his first save in 78 appearances in the major leagues.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Josh Kinney wasn't going to earn his first major-league save without breaking a sweat.
The Mariners thrust Kinney, 33, into his third inning of work against Minnesota on Sunday, then let him battle out of a jam before emerging with his first save in parts of five big-league seasons with three teams.
"I was actually pretty tired," said Kinney, who came in to get the final out of the seventh in what was still a 2-1 game. "I threw a ton of warm-up pitches in the pen because I wanted to be sharp."
The right-hander also got an out in Saturday's win over the Twins, after throwing on the side before that game.
"I hadn't pitched much. I really haven't been doing a lot of throwing.
"So, I got out there that last inning (Sunday) and I was like, 'Man, I'm physically spent right now.' "
The Mariners were trying to avoid using Tom Wilhelmsen in a third straight save situation, so they stuck with Kinney. He issued a pair of one-out walks in the ninth, but got out of trouble on a line out and ground out.
"We took it about as far as we could take it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Kinney. "But ultimately, that was a great job by Josh, getting that done and finishing off that ballgame."
Wedge asked Kinney when he came off the field whether that had indeed been his first save in 78 appearances in the majors, starting with St. Louis in 2006.
"I was like, 'First what?' " Kinney said. "I really didn't have any idea it was a save, so it was pretty cool."
His teammates were waiting with a clubhouse beer shower for him. Kinney also got to keep the ball used to record the save.
"This time," he said, "I'd like to think I threw enough pitches to earn this one."
• Franklin Gutierrez went 2 for 4 with a double in his second game of an injury rehabilitation stint with Class AAA Tacoma. Gutierrez was the designated hitter Sunday after going 0 for 2 and playing five innings in center field for the Rainiers on Saturday.
• John Jaso reached base twice with a pair of walks. He has a .467 on-base percentage, including 18 walks since the All-Star break.