Last night’s soul-crushing loss to the Red Sox resulted in a demotion for Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. The 29-year-old right-hander entered with a 7-2 lead, seemingly an easy finish to an easy game. He faced four hitters, allowing a walk, a single, a double, and another walk before being lifted. As other Mariner relievers — Oliver Perez and Yoervis Medina — failed to get the job done, Wilhelmsen was charged with four runs, raising his ERA to 4.37. The Red Sox eventually walked off 8-7 winners on Daniel Nava’s 8-7 single to center. As Dave Cameron pointed out on Twitter last night, the Mariners were 99 percent favorites to win, and they lost.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times informs us that Wilhelmsen is now out as the Mariners closer for the foreseeable future.
The team has not named an official interim closer. Interim manager Robby Thompson said, “We’ll try to piece it together and match up. And we’ll go from there.”
Wilhelmsen started off the season in fine fashion, carrying an 0.75 ERA through the end of May. Since June, however, he has an 8.10 ERA with an 18-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 and one-third innings. It’s not just Wilhelmen, though. Over the last 30 days, the Mariner bullpen as a whole has a 5.44 ERA, outpaced only by the Astros at 5.83. Demoting Wilhelmsen, while a good idea for the right-hander’s mental health, is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
We’ve got some potential craziness building in the American League Wild Card race with one day left in the regular season.
After dropping both halves of a doubleheader on Saturday in Baltimore, the Yankees are now just one game up for the first spot — hosting duties. Houston, currently in the second spot, won again Saturday in Arizona behind two Colby Rasmus homers and a very good start from Collin McHugh. Anaheim won Saturday in Arlington, Texas in maybe the wildest game of the year to stay one game back of the ‘Stros.
This also touches the still-undecided American League West, where the Rangers only have a one-game lead on the Astros and will face a fired-up Angels team on Sunday afternoon. By design, the start times for all these games that matter are the same: 3:05 p.m. ET. Only the Cardinals and Braves will play at a different time (due to Saturday’s rainout).
Buckle up, people. Get your popcorn ready. All that.
Your box scores and AP recaps from Saturday …
Yankees 2, Orioles 1 (Game 1)
Royals 5, Twins 1
Angels 11, Rangers 10
Nationals 3, Mets 1 (Game 1)
Rockies 2, Giants 3
Marlins 7, Phillies 6 (Game 1)
Blue Jays 3, Rays 4
Reds 3, Pirates 1
Yankees 3, Orioles 4 (Game 2)
Red Sox 0, Indians 2
Cubs 1, Brewers 0
Nationals 2, Mets 0 (Game 2)
Marlins 5, Phillies 2 (Game 2)
Astros 6, Diamondbacks 2
Padres 1, Dodgers 2
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.