Wilhelmsen demoted after Mariners’ 3-1 loss to Blue Jays
Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma after the Mariners’ 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays Monday night.
Seattle Times staff reporter
After the game, one-time closer Tom Wilhelmsen was packing his gear and receiving hugs from teammates. Wilhelmsen confirmed that he is headed for Class AAA Tacoma to try to regain the form that at one point this year allowed him to lock down the ninth inning.
Wilhelmsen, however, was removed from closing duties for the second time this year after a disastrous outing in Boston last Thursday in which he was charged with four runs without recording an out.
“I’m not throwing strikes; it makes sense,’’ a glum Wilhelmsen said of his demotion.
It was not known who will take Wilhelmsen’s place on the roster.
On a night in which Safeco Field was jammed with Blue Jays fans, the supporters of each team spent most of the night cheering about jams averted.
The crowd of 32,300 had a distinct North-of-the-Border bias, but the Mariner camp got the first big cheer on a leadoff homer by Justin Smoak in the seventh, breaking a scoreless tie.
The Blue Jays contingent, however, got the last, and loudest, celebration when the Jays erupted for three in the top of the eighth for the victory.
Hisashi Iwakuma was working on a two-hit shutout and clinging to the Smoak-delivered, 1-0 lead heading to the eighth.
“We felt good about sending him out,’’ acting manager Robby Thompson said of Iwakuma. “He was at 93 pitches, and he had been in command of the game.”
But Brett Lawrie, a British Columbia native who was a particular crowd favorite, led off with a triple to right-center and came home on Jose Reyes’s one-out single.
That tying run came on Iwakuma’s 102nd pitch, which turned out to be his last one.
His replacement, Yoervis Medina, got the second out of the inning before a single and walk left the bases loaded. In came Oliver Perez to face pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa, who jumped on an 0-2 pitch and lined a decisive two-run single to left.
The Mariners thought they had two runners picked off during the inning, one at second and one at first.
“He was out at first,’’ said first baseman Smoak. “I tagged him before he got to the bag. And he was visibly out at second. It is what it is, but you have to move on.”
Iwakuma had matched zeros with Dickey, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner, through six innings. But Smoak jumped on a 1-1 knuckler from Dickey in the seventh and sent a towering blast deep into the right-field bleachers, his 11th homer.
“He definitely had it dancing,’’ Smoak said of Dickey’s knuckleball. “If it was up, I was swinging. I just happened to catch it at the right time.”
After Smoak’s home run, the M’s put runners on first and third with one out, but Kyle Seager hit into a double play. Each Blue Jays escape pleased their partisans, who were raucous in support of the visitors.
“I’m not going to say what I want to say,’’ Smoak said. “I guess we’re as close to Canada as anybody else. It was a good crowd for a Monday night game. Good for them, I guess.”
• Second baseman Nick Franklin, mired in an 0-for-24 slump, sat out his second straight game, a decision Thompson said was partially because Dickey was pitching for Toronto. “With Dickey pitching tonight, a knuckleballer, it might not be a real good matchup for him coming back after the day off.” Instead, Dustin Ackley made his first start at second since returning from the minors on June 25.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com.