CHICAGO – There have been times in the past eight months when Mariners closer David Aardsma would leave his trademark fastball a little too high in the zone.
On some of those days, the hitters would flat-out miss it. Other times, they’d fail to get good wood on the 95 mph heaters.
And then, there are times like this 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, when one of those too-high fastballs will be launched into a damp, late-afternoon sky, setting off an impromptu celebration.
“You never want to give it up, but it’s just a matter of the job,” Aardsma said after suffering his first blown save since Aug. 20. “It’s a matter of baseball. Of life. Sometimes, you’re not going to get them all.”
Alex Rios did get all of the 1-1 pitch Aardsma left up in the strike zone, giving the Mariners their second defeat in a row on a walkoff home run, something that hadn’t happened since 2002.
Seattle took a 4-2 lead on a two-run, ground-rule double to right by Casey Kotchman in the top of the frame.
That hit seemed certain to give Doug Fister the win after another eight strong innings. Aardsma had converted his last 16 save opportunities.
But a Paul Konerko solo homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth made it a one-run game. Aardsma later walked Carlos Quentin on a two-out, full-count pitch to bring Rios to the plate.
“That’s the hitter that changes the inning,” Aardsma said of Quentin. “I mean, who cares about Konerko? He hits a home run, he can hit it out of the stadium. I don’t even care. It’s a two-run ballgame. You’ve got to get another one. And with that walk, that’s the out I’ve got to get.”
Aardsma said he made only one really bad pitch during the walk. Fister had kept the Mariners in it despite two hits off Chicago starter Freddy Garcia the first seven innings. One was a Franklin Gutierrez solo homer in the fourth inning, the other a run-scoring Jose Lopez double in the seventh.
The only runs off Fister came in the fifth on an Alexei Ramirez two-run double that put Chicago up 2-1.
But Lopez’s double tied it, then Kotchman notched his double off Bobby Jenks in the ninth. A fan interfered with the ball in the corner and pinch-runner Jack Wilson, who had been on first base, was awarded home plate and a huge tack-on run for Seattle.
Turns out, it didn’t matter.
“With 16 straight saves going into today, you expect to win that ballgame,” said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, whose team lost Friday’s series opener on an Andruw Jones homer off Mark Lowe in the ninth. “He got some pitches up in the zone but he’s been awfully consistent for us, perfect this year. He ended up leaving some pitches up, and he got hurt.”
White Sox 5, Mariners 4
|Griffey Jr. dh||3||0||0||0||1||0||.222|
E—F.Garcia (1). LOB—Seattle 3, Chicago 3. 2B—Jo.Lopez (2), Kotchman (5), An.Jones (2), Al.Ramirez (4). HR—F.Gutierrez (1), off F.Garcia; Konerko (7), off Aardsma; Rios (3), off Aardsma. RBIs—F.Gutierrez (11), Jo.Lopez (9), Kotchman 2 (14), Konerko (13), Rios 2 (9), Al.Ramirez 2 (6). SB—Jo.Lopez (2), Rios (4). CS—Rios (2). RLISP—Seattle 2 (Byrnes 2); Chicago 3 (Konerko, Pierre, Pierzynski). RMU—Griffey Jr.. GIDP—Konerko, Al.Ramirez. DP—Seattle 3 (Jo.Lopez, Figgins, Kotchman), (Figgins, Kotchman), (Ro.Johnson, Ro.Johnson, Tuiasosopo).
Aardsma L, 0-1BS, 1-7
IBB—off F.Garcia (Kotchman). T—2:34. A—25,253 (40,615).
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