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Monday, May 4, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mariners Play Inside Game -- Wilson's Inside-The-Park Slam Keys Win; Help From Tacoma Sought

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

While it hardly qualifies as a shakeup, the Mariners are expected to change the makeup of the club a bit in the next day or two.

It will not be by trade. During the weekend series against Detroit - which ended with a 10-6 victory - Seattle General Manager Woody Woodward said his club had investigated that route, considering acquiring Bip Roberts of the Tigers as well as Vince Coleman and Ruben Sierra, but rejected it.

After club officials spoke with 27 of 29 big-league clubs - all but Anaheim and Texas - about the possibility of a deal, they decided to move within the organization. "We decided not to add to the age of the club and we can't add payroll," Woodward said.

"If we move," said Lee Pelekoudas, assistant general manager, "it would be laterally, before our next series."

Thus, the Mariners are anticipating making one or two changes from inside the organization. Among those who could come up from Class AAA Tacoma are outfielders Shane Monahan, David McCarty or Rickey Cradle.

Outfielder Robert Perez, hitting .161 in 16 games, will go if Seattle limits itself to one move. A second move could involve dropping one of two backups catchers, either John Marzano or Rick Wilkins. Wilkins, hitting .189 in 18 games, might be the more likely of the two.

"With Jay (Buhner) out, carrying three catchers severely limits what we can do during games," Manager Lou Piniella said. "We've reached a point where we should consider doing whatever we can."

Scoring five runs in each of the first two innings made strategizing moot as Seattle took the Kids Weekend series from Detroit, 2-1, although Randy Johnson's continuing inconsistency gave the Tigers hope at 5-2 in the second and 10-6 in a three-run seventh.

However, Dan Wilson provided a boost by driving in four runs in the first inning with a rare (the 171st ever) inside-the-park grand slam, the first in Mariner history, and Edgar Martinez tacked on three more in the second with a three-run homer that bumped his previously paltry total of 15 RBI.

With two away and 0-2, Wilson coaxed a 2-2 count out of Detroit starter Frank Castillo, then fouled off four fastballs. Castillo tried to mix in a curve and hung it for the Mariner catcher to smash well to the wall in left-center.

Detroit left fielder Luis Gonzalez got a glove on the ball but it caromed right past center fielder Brian Hunter, who had gotten too close to the play. "I saw the ball bounce past Hunter and knew I had at least three bases," Wilson said. "From there my back was to the play and I could only watch Smitty."

Third base coach Steve Smith is a committed gambler with two outs. "Even with one out, I'd had waved Willie around," Smith said. "I thought he had that good a shot at it. With two gone, he was going all the way. It was exciting."

Wilson, who had Seattle's last inside-the-parker in 1996, chugged on home and collapsed in a slide at home, far ahead of the late relay. "I really picked up on the excitement and energy of the crowd," he said. "If only they could have done something for my wind. It took me a couple of innings to catch my breath."

By that time Johnson also had caught something of a breeze, after walking three in the first and allowing two runs in the second. He worked reasonably well through the sixth, allowing only four hits and one more run. In the seventh, however, he folded for three runs on a walk, hit batter and two singles.

"I am really upset about my outing," the pitcher said. "I'm pitching well on the road but poorly at home and I have no idea what the problem is, that's the scary part. I'm looking for consistency like anyone else and I'm just thankful we got those 10 runs or we might not have won."

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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