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Wedge defends Saunders' ill-fated steal attempt

The SportsXchange

Seattle Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, who'd been at first base representing the tying run, was caught trying to steal second for the final out of the game in the bottom of the 11th inning Wednesday.

Manager Eric Wedge could have been upset. He could have dressed down Saunders in private, or, worse, in front of the rest of the team. Wedge didn't choose either option.

Instead Wedge talked about how much he's come to trust Saunders and his baseball instincts.

"Trust has to be part of the game," Wedge said. "He's not going to take off unless he knows he's going to steal the base. And if the throw was anywhere else, he's safe."

Baltimore catcher Taylor Teagarden's throw was right on the base in the glove of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had Saunders slide into him just as he made the catch. The Orioles thus held on for a 3-1 win instead of having to face the Mariners' most clutch pinch hitter, John Jaso, with Kyle Seager on third, Saunders on second and two outs.

The 2012 season has been all about the Mariners trying to progress, to grow, to learn from mistakes. And, sometimes, to learn from things that aren't mistakes but are just misfortune like the Saunders' steal attempt. Teagarden's throw was spot-on, or Saunders, who had already stolen his 20th base of the season earlier in the game, would have been the tying run at second base.

"I've been thrilled by Michael Saunders this year," Wedge said. "He's aggressive; he's out there trying to make something happen. And we're doing nothing offensively. That's the problem."

The Mariners lost 4-2 to the Orioles in 18 innings Tuesday and 3-1 in 11 on Wednesday. In those two games, Seattle went 0-for-21 with runners in scoring position.

"We're one hit away both nights," Wedge said. "Somebody's got to step up."

Nobody did.

"(That) makes it difficult on all the other parts of our game," Wedge said.
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