Aardsma serves up No. 595 after Seattle ties Yanks
NEW YORK – Ryan Rowland-Smith didn’t quite match the impossible standards set by Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, but he pitched plenty well enough for the Seattle Mariners to win Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
And when the Mariners rallied to tie the score in the eighth inning on Russ Branyan’s two-out, two-run single off the previously impenetrable CC Sabathia, it seemed more Bronx magic was in the air for Seattle.
But the Mariners were brought down by a familiar face, facing a pitcher in an uncustomary role. Alex Rodriguez’s tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth off David Aardsma lifted the Yankees to a 4-2 victory.
The opposite-field home run – the 595th of Rodriguez’s career as he moves closer to becoming the seventh player in the 600-homer club – came on a 0-1, 95 mph fastball by Aardsma, up in the zone.
Of the fateful pitch, Mariners catcher Josh Bard said, “Alex is obviously a very special player, but I would throw that same pitch to him 100 times. He thought he fouled it off. He looked straight up. I thought he had fouled it off, too.”
Aardsma thought it was “absolutely” a pop fly. And he, too, wouldn’t change his plan of attack against Rodriguez, who had been hitless in four previous at-bats against him.
“No question,” Aardsma said. “I’ve made that pitch every time I’ve faced him. Every time I’ve faced him, I’ve attacked him like that. What am I going to do, change my game plan because he got one up in the air and it got out?
“I was throwing the ball well. I had a good angle on it. I was making good, solid pitches. If you saw the first swing, why would you change anything?”
Manager Don Wakamatsu said he went to Aardsma, the M’s closer, in the eighth inning of a tie game because he hadn’t pitched in five days.
“We had to get him in there,” he said. “We got him hot, and went with him in that situation because he needed to pitch. He left a pitch up, and this ballpark is a little more hitter-friendly, and that ball went out to right.”
Aardsma had begun to warm up when the Mariners were trailing 2-0, before they rallied to tie it in the eighth.
Sabathia, who won his sixth straight start and remained undefeated at home since last year’s All-Star break, took a three-hit shutout into the eighth.
Bard led off the eighth with a walk, and moved to second on Ichiro Suzuki’s one-out single.
Sabathia, with his pitch count mounting toward a final total of 117, seemed on the verge of working out of it when Chone Figgins popped up. But a passed ball by Jorge Posada left runners on second and third, and Branyan delivered a sharp single to right. Both runners scored, and it was a new game, at least until Rodriguez came up.
Bedard tunes up
Erik Bedard allowed one unearned run in 4 1/3 innings of what Seattle hopes is his final rehabilitation outing before his season debut with the Mariners next week.
The 31-year-old former Baltimore ace walked three and struck out three for Triple-A Tacoma against visiting Portland.
The M’ are penciling in Bedard to make his 2010 debut on Tuesday in Seattle against Kansas City.
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