Brought on to close out what would have been one of most improbable comebacks and inspirational wins of the season, Steve Cishek failed to do so. Instead of a 7-6 victory, the Mariners were left feeling the raw ache of 9-7 loss to the Angels.
The moment the misplaced pitch left Albert Pujols’ bat, Mariners closer Steve Cishek knew the result. The sound, the swing, the trajectory were all too familiar.
And as the blur that was Pujols’ go-ahead, three-run homer rocketed toward the second deck of Edgar’s Cantina in left field at Safeco Field on Saturday night, Cishek dropped to a knee in frustration while the 42,038 fans who had just given a standing ovation to the Mariners minutes earlier groaned in disbelief.
Brought on to close out what would have been one of most improbable comebacks and inspirational wins over the season, Cishek failed to do so. Instead of a memorable 7-6 victory, the Mariners felt the raw ache of a disappointing 9-7 loss to the Angels.
L.A. Angels @ Mariners, 1:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
“As soon as I released it, I knew it didn’t come out of my hand right,” Cishek said. “It was loud off the bat. He put a great swing on it and it was a no doubter.”
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It was a game the Mariners should have won, then lost, then won before finally losing.
“It was a good ballgame,” manager Scott Servais said. “It was entertaining. It was exciting. It was gut-wrenching. It had everything.”
It had everything but the Mariners shaking hands postgame in victory.
For the second straight night, Cishek could not close out a one-run lead. And it was his third blown save in five games.
“First night, ‘Yeah, alright, you messed one up,’ but after this one after a comeback like that, it really stunk,” Cishek said. “When I went into that ballgame, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that was I was going shut the door right there.”
After getting a quick out on Yunel Escobar, Cishek hit Kole Calhoun in the foot with a slider on a 2-2 count. Mike Trout followed with a sharp single to left. With runners on first and second, Cishek just needed a ground ball for a game-ending double play.
“Ground ball all day is what I was thinking,” Cishek said. “I was really just trying to drive a ball down and away and really just got on the side of it. It went right into his zone where he likes the ball.”
Cishek sat and stared into his locker postgame as teammates came over and offered words of encouragement.
“He’s been through this before, he’s not a rookie,” said Joel Peralta, who also struggled in the game. “But sometimes you just need to hear from your teammates to keep your head up.”
But it was his managers’ postgame words to the media that had the most meaning about his future.
“It’s disheartening that we didn’t close it out,” Servais said. “Our bullpen has been outstanding. Just the last couple of nights we’ve had a little hiccup. We have to get them back on track. Anybody who thought we were going to go through the whole season and not blow a save or two is crazy. It happens. But we have a game tomorrow and we have to line up and play. And if we get in the right spots, those guys will get the ball.”
The ninth-inning failures of the past two nights ensured the Mariners’ first series loss in a month as they fell to 21-15. Their last series loss came in the awful season-opening homestand where they lost their first five games at Safeco Field. Since that stretch, they had won seven three-game series, including six straight, while splitting a four-game series with the Astros.
The memory of the unlikely bottom of the eighth rally was overshadowed in defeat.
Down 6-2, Seattle scored five runs against the Angels bullpen to take a 7-6 lead.
Steve Clevenger’s RBI single on a 10-pitch at-bat against right-hander Fernando Salas capped the wild rally. First, Robinson Cano drove in his 34th run of the season. Nelson Cruz had a run-scoring hit. Then Adam Lind, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning, hammered a drive into the right-field corner to score Cano and Cruz.
“I was just trying to stay patient and stay calm,” Lind said. “It was a really good atmosphere. I just wanted to control myself.