MINNEAPOLIS – Tom Wilhelmsen walked the first three batters he faced, and Seattle manager Eric Wedge didn’t budge.
He’s the closer, and this was his game to lose. The right-hander took the defeat hard.
Ryan Doumit’s two-run triple off Wilhelmsen with one out in the ninth inning sent the Minnesota Twins to a 5-4 victory over the Mariners on Saturday.
“Leadoff walks will get you every time. Then you walk the next two guys, you’re looking for trouble,” said Wilhelmsen, whose ERA jumped from 0.75 to 1.85.
This was the third blown save of the season for Wilhelmsen (0-1), all in his last four tries. He pitched a perfect ninth for the save Friday night, but this was far from it after he inherited a 4-2 lead. Josh Willingham hit a sacrifice fly, and Doumit drove in two more for the walk-off win.
“Letting your team down, there’s nothing else like it,” Wilhelmsen said in an obscenity-laced description of his feelings.
Wilhelmsen also issued two walks in a squandered save at San Diego on Wednesday. This one wiped out two homers by Jason Bay and an effective start by Aaron Harang. After such a dominant start to the season, Wilhelmsen has hit a snag. Of his first 22 appearances before this, 19 were scoreless. He has given up only 10 hits in 24 1/3 innings, but his walk total rose to 11.
“He’s going to have to get out there and just put these things behind him,” Wedge said. “Take whatever he can from it in regards to learning from it. I’ve been through this before with closers and you’re going to have some tough spots through the course of a season.”
The Mariners’ Kyle Seager also homered and scored after a single in the seventh.
Harang, who spun a four-hit shutout of San Diego on Monday, allowed only four hits and two runs, one earned, while striking out four over six innings.
Bonderman called up
The Mariners have brought up RHP Jeremy Bonderman to start today’s game, which will mark the 30-year-old’s first major league appearance since 2010. He was signed to a minor-league contract before the season. Bonderman’s career with Detroit was waylaid by shoulder problems. Then he had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last year. The M’s will have to make a roster move to clear room for Bonderman.