Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen retired the side in the ninth against Boston on Monday, an encouraging sign as he finds his old form.
Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen says he’s gradually regaining the confidence that made him so dominant much of this season.
A Red Sox batter reached base on an error in Monday’s ninth inning, but Wilhelmsen was otherwise perfect in retiring the side on three ground-ball outs to notch his 23rd save in 26 tries.
Some recent outings had been adventures for Wilhelmsen, who admits his confidence was somewhat rattled.
“It’s just my attitude, I think,” he said of what’s improved since. “My self-esteem, my confidence. I lost it there for a little bit.”
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The biggest thing this time, he added, was not walking anybody.
Wilhelmsen’s problems seemed to start in a 5-3 win over Cleveland on Aug. 17, when he gave up a broken-bat double off the right-field wall to Ezequiel Carrera that came a few feet from being a tying home run.
Wilhelmsen isn’t sure where his downturn began, but the result was throwing far more balls and walking more hitters than he’d been used to. That Cleveland game began a string of seven outings in which Wilhelmsen walked a batter. He also blew a save and took a loss at Chicago on Aug. 24, and nearly torched the finale of the last trip in Minnesota.
“You just have to trust your stuff, no matter what,” he said. “Even if it gets hit, you’ve still got to come back and throw it.”
That process actually began in a win over the Angels on Sunday, even though Wilhelmsen gave up the only Los Angeles run of a 2-1 Seattle win. With the tying run on second and two out, he rebounded to retire Erick Aybar on a lazy pop-up.
“I thought I threw a good pitch, he just went out and got it,” he said of Howie Kendrick’s run-scoring single against him. “You’ve just got to get back on the horse and go after him.”
• Michael Saunders was a spectator again on Monday as he continues to let his sore groin heal. Manager Eric Wedge said the outfielder could play in coming days once he’s able to start and stop on a dime when chasing fly balls. Saunders was injured Aug. 17 in a ninth-inning collision.
• The Red Sox have been outscored 58-16 during their season-high seven straight losses. It’s the longest losing streak by Boston since a nine-game skid in August 2001.