The idea was to allow Ichiro to catch his breath and try to snap out of a month-long funk. But turns out, Wedge caught a little lightning in a bottle with his fill-in choice as rookie Carlos Peguero ripped a home run and a triple on a night Seattle busted out a season-high seven extra base hits.
"He's starting to settle in a little bit," Wedge said of the free-swinging youngster. "He's getting a little more under control. Obviously he's very explosive with that bat. Even the home run, he got off the end of his bat, but he's just that strong."
The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Peguero doesn't have much in common with the slender Ichiro. Nor does he figure as a long-term replacement in right field for the 10-time All-Star, who will be back in the lineup Saturday when Seattle faces the Tigers in the third game of the four-day set.
But the rookie from the Dominican stepped up large with his two hits and two runs. And Chone Figgins, moved to Ichiro's leadoff role, also chipped in with a 2-for-4 night with a double on a drizzly night in front of 30,511 fans at Comerica.
Peguero, who has been platooning in left field since the dismissal of Milton Bradley, now has five home runs and 13 RBIs in 26 games. The youngster has had four multiple-hit games in his last seven outings, raising his batting average to .237.
He said he's comfortable in right field, having played there extensively in the Minor Leagues. The key for him is getting settled in at the plate against Major League pitchers who've been feeding him a steady diet of off-speed pitches. But he made Tigers starter Brad Penny pay on a 1-2 slider.
"I feel more relaxed because my timing is better right now," said Peguero, who has gone five games now without a strikeout. "I don't feel like I have to swing really, really hard to hit the ball far. Everybody told me that. I just put it into practice."
Peguero's seventh-inning home run stood as the winner, though Tigers manager Jim Leyland felt it was his fifth-inning triple that turned the game as the rookie scored the tying run on a Chris Gimenez single just after Victor Martinez had given Detroit the lead on a two-run blast.
"The killer was that they scored the very next inning," said Leyland. "That next inning is very important after you take the lead. They came right back and scored, and a lot of times, that spells disaster for you."
Chris Ray picked up the win after throwing two perfect innings in the sixth and seventh in relief of Erik Bedard. Ray has now gone 11 straight innings without allowing an earned run and improved to 3-1 on the season after a slow start.
"I've got a little extra life on my slider now," said the former Orioles closer. "Before it was just kind of floating. For the most part it's a lot sharper and a pitch I've been getting guys out on."
"Everybody did their job tonight," said Pauley, who let loose a big fist pump after getting Boesch on a checked swing with a curve ball in the dirt. "Ray went out and did a great job getting six outs. I got the ball there in the eighth and Brandon has been doing so well. It's been great. We just kept things rolling."
"That was a warrior effort by our bullpen," said Wedge.
Bedard is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last eight starts and has allowed just two home runs in that span with 48 strikeouts and 12 walks. But he's received no-decisions in his last three outings, including last Sunday when he saw a 5-3 lead against Tampa Bay washed away by a bad outing by Jamey Wright.
This time Bedard needed 96 pitches to get through five innings and turned a 2-2 tie over to Ray. The veteran lefty gave up just three hits, but one of those was the two-run bolt by Martinez.
Seattle's first run came when Justin Smoak lifted an opposite-field home run in the first off Penny. It was his 11th bomb of the year and ended Miguel Olivo's streak of having hit the last four home runs for Seattle.
Smoak sat out Thursday, his first day off since returning from the bereavement list 39 games earlier. That move appeared to pay off when he came back strong. Whether Ichiro gets the same boost remains to be seen, though Wedge indicated it was definitely just a one-game respite.
One unanswered question: After Figgins hit the ball better than he has in a quite some time, Wedge was noncommittal on whether he might stay in the lineup as the leadoff hitter even when Ichiro returns to the lineup.