SEATTLE -- When Brandon League started struggling in the closer's role in late May, the Mariners' plan was to temporarily remove him from ninth-inning duty until he regained his All-Star form.
The plan had worked the previous year when League went on to save 37 games after an early-season bout with inconsistencies. It appeared the same would happen this year, but what looked like immediate improvement from League has leveled out.
"He's been a little bit inconsistent," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Last night he wasn't at his best. There's times when we've seen him really good, too. Just need more consistency out of him, we need to know what we're going to be getting when we call for him.
"Still using him late in the ballgames, still using him in key situations, like we did last night -- that's where he belongs. He's a veteran guy, he has a lot of experience in the back end of the bullpen."
Wedge said he would like to see League throw a breaking ball early in the count more and wants to see the right-hander gain more confidence in his slider, a pitch he calls "filthy." Until he can do that, though, Tom Wilhelmsen will continue to be the go-to guy.
Wedge said he still prefers to have multiple options at the end of games, but Wilhelmsen has been dominant in save situations, converting all six of his opportunities since League was removed from the role. The tall righty has not allowed a run in his past 15 2/3 innings, a span of 13 appearances, and is limiting opponents to a .118 (6-for-51) batting average during that time.
"I want to have multiple options, ideally," Wedge said. "When we become more consistent winners, you need to have that -- to keep them both at their best. One's always going to have the lead role and obviously Wilhelmsen's in that lead role right now, but with Leaguer, still want him to be the best he can be."
Ryan turning around fortunes at the plate
SEATTLE -- When Brendan Ryan's single cleared the glove of leaping second baseman Jemile Weeks to drive in the go-ahead run in Tuesday's contest with Oakland, Mariners fans were delighted. To Ryan, it also provided relief.
"It seems like there's bodies everywhere anyway," Ryan said. "Just happy to see the ball hit some grass. It's just nice for it to all work out."
Ryan has struggled at the plate this season, but not because of a lack of work. The game-winning hit is just another step for the shortstop in a long road back to offensive respect. Since June 15, when Ryan was hitting just .156, he has gone 10-for-31 (.323) with two doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.
"He's been slowly climbing," manager Eric Wedge said. "His [batting practice has] been better. Again, I think he's been more consistent with his repetition during the game, with his takes, with his swings. Like I said before, with his balance. He's put himself in a better position to hit.
"Like I told him, we don't need you to do it overnight, just work in the right direction and the length of the season will take care of the rest."
Wells producing, adds depth in outfield
SEATTLE -- One of the few luxuries Mariners manager Eric Wedge has on a daily basis is a plethora of talented outfielders. The return of Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list was expected to provide a boost, but Casper Wells' recent production has also been a somewhat surprising but welcome sight.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on June 13, Wells is hitting .414 (12-for-29) with a home run and 10 RBIs. In Tuesday's 3-2 win over the A's, Wells started an eighth-inning rally with a single, stole second and scored the go-ahead run.
"I know he worked really hard down there in the short period of time he was at Triple-A," Wedge said. "I just think his approach is better, from a mental standpoint, I think he's seeing the ball better because he's a little bit slower with his leg kick. I think it's allowed his head to be a little more quiet and see the ball. When he does that, he gets the barrel to the ball a lot better because he's in better position when his foot does hit the ground.
"We're trying to play him a little bit more, give him more of an opportunity."
The Mariners played their 14th rubber match on Wednesday, their fifth straight series to be decided in the final game. They entered Wednesday 7-6 in rubber matches this season.
Entering Wednesday's game against Oakland, Mariners starters had posted a 1.95 ERA in their past four games and had recorded 36 strikeouts.
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.