HOUSTON -- Michael Saunders started Saturday's game in center field for the Mariners, but the team's best outfielder moved to right in the seventh inning after Dustin Ackley pinch-hit for Jason Bay and then took over in center.
The move paid off in aces for manager Eric Wedge when Saunders made an outstanding running catch of a leadoff line drive into the right-center gap in the ninth inning by Justin Maxwell that helped closer Tom Wilhelmsen finish off a 4-2 win.
"It paid off," Wedge said. "Putting Ackley in center and Saundo in right was big for us. I like Michael in all three spots, but in right field he arguably helps us as much as anything, just because there's so much more ground and you're trying to keep runners from going to first and third and you've got a lot more going on out there than most people realize."
Ackley made the game-ending catch, but it was Saunders who hauled in a ball that looked like trouble from the moment it was crushed by Maxwell.
"Off the bat I thought it was in the gap," Saunders said. "Being a righty, the ball kind of tailed back toward me a little bit and I was able to run it down."
Wilhelmsen appreciated it more than anyone as he went on to record his second save in as many nights against the Astros.
"That was the play of the day," said Wilhelmsen. "He closed down on that sucker so fast. That ball was smoked. I was like 'Holy cow.' He was full extension. Incredible catch."