SEATTLE – Another link to the Mariners team that began the 2011 season was severed on Wednesday when Jack Wilson was traded.
Wilson began the year as Seattle’s starting second baseman, but had become largely forgotten for months before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves for a player-to-be named in a move that saves his team about $833,000. A Mariners team that later went out and won a 2-1 pitchers’ duel with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night has now replaced four members of its Opening Day lineup while dealing away two of its initial five starting pitchers as well.
The long-expected trade was preceded by Chone Figgins losing his everyday job at third base, Jack Cust being released a month ago and Milton Bradley being cut by the team in May. Throw in the late-July trades of Erik Bedard and Doug Fister and the Mariners are indeed a dramatically different team than they were to start the year.
Not only that, but the Mariners have only two active position players left – Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez – from the squad that finished general manager Jack Zduriencik’s first season in 2009.
Zduriencik was given a multiyear contract extension by the Mariners on Wednesday and he pledged to continue what he called his longstanding plan to accumulate talent for the organization.
The younger Mariners had experienced their on-field challenges of late, dropping eight of their previous 12 games and trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning on Wednesday in front of 18,520 fans at Safeco Field. But then, as if on cue, the younger hitters began getting to Angels starter Dan Haren late in the contest and finally pulled it out in the eighth.
Mike Carp, whose dramatic ascension to big league prominence spelled the end of Cust’s days in Seattle, delivered a two-run, two-out double to the left-center gap to bring his team from behind. Haren had survived a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and had just four outs to go when Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley came through with two-out singles in the eighth to bring Carp to the plate.
Carp jumped ahead 2-0 in the count, took a strike, then drilled a ball deep, over the head of center fielder Peter Bourjos to help hand Seattle and Felix Hernandez the series win.
Hernandez did all he could for eight innings, but seemed headed for another tough loss after his offense was stymied by mound opponent Haren for much of the night.
But handed the lead to begin the ninth, Hernandez, at just 97 pitches to begin the final frame, wasted little time in retiring the side.