On May 14, when Brandon Morrow melted down for the second night in a row in Arlington, Texas, turning a 2-0 Mariners’ lead in the 9th inning into a 3-2 Rangers’ victory, David Aardsma was among those lending morale support to Morrow, who was visibly crushed.
“Everyone who’s gotten to this level has been in his exact shoes,” Aardsma said that night. “We’ll pick him up, and he’ll go back out there next time, and we’ll keep going after them.
“He’s strong mentally, very strong mentally, so you know he’s going to be fine.”
That turned out to be the end of Morrow as a closer, with Aardsma sliding into the role, to great success. Aardsma, however, has had two outings in which he was, indeed, in Morrow’s exact shoes.
The first occurred in Anaheim on May 31, when Aardsma inherited an 8-6 lead in the ninth (the M’s had once led 8-1 in the sixth). He gave up two hits and four walks, and the Angels had a walk-off, 9-8 win that stunned the Mariners. And, of course, yesterday was just as stunning, as Aardsma failed to hold a 3-0 lead against the Orioles. He gave up five runs on four hits and a walk (two Mariners’ errors didn’t help, especially Jose Lopez’s on a potential double-play ball) to lead to an equally devastating 5-3 Seattle loss.
How will Aardsma bounce back? The way he responded to the Angels disaster should be encouraging to Mariners’ fans. In his 13 appearances that followed that game, until Wednesday, Aardsma pitched 13 innings in 13 outings, and didn’t allow a run. He struck out 22 in those13 innings and walked just four, holding opposing hitters to a .159 average. He was nine for nine in saves.
That’s called having a short-term memory, essential to being a good closer. Now we’ll see if Aardsma can forget again.
(Associated Press photo)