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Wilhelmsen happy to be this year's Mariners train

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SEATTLE -- Tom Wilhelmsen hasn't blown a save this season and hasn't allowed a hit to a right-handed batter. But the primary topic of conversation for the Mariners' closer on Friday revolved more around his first big promotion.

Saturday night will be Tom Wilhelmsen Train Engine Night at Safeco Field, with the first 20,000 fans receiving the annual giveaway that has turned into a collector's item for Mariners fans. The annual promotion has been going on since 2000 and has included the "Gar Car" for Edgar Martinez, the Ichiro Express Engine, the Boonie Box Car, Felix Hernandez High Octane Gas Car and the Moose Caboose.

Wilhelmsen is happy to join the club.

"I've never had a train named after me," he said with a grin. "And in case anyone was wondering, I was not named after Thomas the Train. It's all good. My family will get a kick out of it. It's fun. It's cool that it's a tradition that has been happening for quite some time. I'm honored to be a part of it. And I didn't even have to dance or do anything."

Wilhelmsen has done plenty on the mound this season, where he's 9-for-9 in save opportunities heading into the A's series. He's retired the first batter he's faced in all 14 appearances and right-handed hitters are 0-for-25 against him.

"I'm getting strike one," he said. "You're going to be successful if you throw more strikes than balls, so that's what I'm trying to go after. Just fill up the strike zone."

As for his success against right-handers, he said nothing has changed in his approach.

"It's the same old thing," he said. "I'm approaching them the same way as lefties, really, just trying to get strike one and put the pressure on them. Most of the time we're in the lead when I come in. It's much easier to pitch when you've got the lead. The pressure is on them, and I want them to feel it even more with strike one. I've been able to find it pretty good so far and I hope it continues."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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