SEATTLE — It was the type of play that went against the Mariners two months ago when they couldn’t get out of Cleveland fast enough.
But not even the dastardly Indians could dream up a scenario quite as implausible as what happened Tuesday night in the ninth inning of this 4-3 win by the Mariners. The only thing standing in the way of an eighth consecutive Mariners win was the Indians having runners at the corners and nobody out.
That’s when third baseman Kyle Seager ran in on a slow chopper and began an unbelievable 5-4-2-6 double play that turned the tide. Tom Wilhelmsen ended the game with a called strikeout, and all of a sudden the Mariners can start to dream of much bigger things.
“You don’t see that play too often,’’ Seager said in a boisterous clubhouse. “I’d say that was pretty well-executed on a lot of parts.’’
The 16,308 fans at Safeco Field would say so as well, erupting in an explosive ovation when pinch-runner Drew Stubbs was tagged out between third and home to cap the double play. Moments earlier, those same fans seemed resigned to Wilhelmsen blowing the save after consecutive singles put the speedy Stubbs on third base.
But then Yan Gomes hit the chopper to Seager, who glanced at Stubbs once before making a throw to second base.
“When it was hit to me, I was just trying to make sure he didn’t ... break home,’’ Seager said of the freezing look.
The ball wasn’t hit that hard, so the chances of turning a double play would be tough. Second baseman Nick Franklin said his priority was to get at least one out at second in taking the tough-angled throw.
Franklin was planning to throw on to first to attempt the twin-killing in any event. But then he saw Stubbs out of the corner of his eye inch just a little too far toward home.
“I was kind of surprised,’’ Franklin said. “I didn’t think he was going to try to go home.’’
Franklin instead glanced once at Stubbs – freezing him momentarily – then fired a strike to catcher Mike Zunino. Stubbs was hung up in no-man’s land from there, and Zunino played it right.
“You have to just get him going one way,’’ Zunino said. “And then you have to get him going back to third and get him to commit one way. And then give up the ball, and hopefully he’s got to put on the brakes.’’
Mariners shortstop Brad Miller took the final throw and tagged Stubbs out with surprisingly little resistance. That was huge because it didn’t allow Gomes to move up into scoring position.
With a little more comfort zone, Wilhelmsen made the pitches he had to, and the final one was good enough to catch Michael Bourn looking at a game-ending strike.
“It’s a lot of fun when things are going well,’’ Wilhelmsen said after his second adventurous save in as many nights. “That’s the way things have been going lately for everybody. Everyone’s just having a great time in the clubhouse and on the field.’’
And now, having moved four games from .500 after being a dozen back when this streak began, the Mariners have a chance to take off on a season-altering run. They survived a shaky first few innings by Erasmo Ramirez, who fell behind 3-1 after a towering two-run homer by Gomes in the second, and emerged with the streak intact.
The Indians helped them out with three early errors and a costly wild pitch by starter Zach McAllister in a three-run third by Seattle that decided things. Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales opened the third with doubles to make it a 3-2 game and then – after Morales was thrown out trying to score on an ensuing single by Seager – Michael Saunders doubled to put runners at second and third.
That’s when McAllister – making his first start after seven weeks on the disabled list – uncorked a wild pitch with Zunino at the plate. Seager came sprinting home with the tying run while Saunders moved to third and soon scored the go-ahead run on a Zunino single to right.
M’s Wedge spends second night in hospital
SEATTLE — Mariners manager Eric Wedge was expected to miss the rest of the series against the Cleveland Indians after spending a second night in the hospital Tuesday while awaiting test results.
Wedge was first hospitalized before Monday night’s game after suffering bouts of dizziness during batting practice. Bench coach Robby Thompson, who is managing in Wedge’s absence, said he spoke on a couple of occasions Tuesday with Wedge’s wife, Kate.
“He has been up and down a little bit,’’ Thompson said. “The dizziness is not as bad and we’re just hoping that continues to get better each hour.’’
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik spent part of Tuesday morning at the hospital with Wedge but wasn’t as detailed about the manager’s physical condition in speaking to the media. Zduriencik was asked whether he had an indication of how serious Wedge’s problem is.
“I don’t know that,’’ he said. “I’m not a doctor. Again, I sat with him this morning, he was fine and we had a nice conversation about the game last night. He’s in good spirits and he’s resting. I think that’s a good thing right now and until we get the full diagnosis ... it’s just too early to say.’’
For now, he added, Wedge is undergoing a battery of tests and won’t have the full results until at least Wednesday morning. At that point, Wedge could be released, but it’s doubtful he’d manage in this afternoon’s 12:40 series finale against the Indians.
Zduriencik addressed the team before batting practice Tuesday to update them on Wedge’s condition. Thompson said the players remain concerned, but know they have a job to do.
“One thing we do know is that it was a serious enough matter for him to be taken to the hospital,” Thompson said. “And for Eric Wedge to do that ... he’s a tough guy. He didn’t want to, nor did any of us. But it’s the best thing for him and for us as a whole for him to go in and get all these tests done.
“But the guys are concerned. They know though that their job is to go out at 7:10 and get in-between the lines and do what they do best. They’ve played well as of late. There are a bunch of professionals down there who know how to handle things and move forward and that’s what they plan on doing.’’
Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley said not too much has changed in terms of the team’s pregame preparation.
“I don’t think it really affects a ton,’’ he said. “Just not seeing him there is kind of different because you’re so used to it. Other than that, I don’t think it changes our mindset or anything that goes on. The lineups are still the same. It’s not like anything drastic is changing.’’
Ackley added the presence of more veteran players than in years past also helps.
“I think that’s another reason why it really doesn’t change,” he said. “Because we have those guys that have kind of been around a long time and know how to react when situations like this happen.’’
• Mariners starting pitchers entered Tuesday having recorded wins in seven straight contests. That’s only the third time in team history that has happened and was one shy of the club record of eight set May 27-June 4, 2003. Seattle is only the second team to have starters win seven in a row this year, the other being the Angels.
• Seattle entered Tuesday with a club record of home runs in 16 straight games played at Safeco Field. The previous record was 11 games in a row in 1999.
• Tuesday was the anniversary of the Mariners trading Ichiro to the New York Yankees for pitchers Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell.