CHICAGO – The new-look Seattle Mariners lost a game Saturday, and while the result might have seemed all too familiar, the process was not.
Against Chicago, the Mariners threw two young pitchers – Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz – and limited the White Sox to three hits.
Seattle played marvelous defense using maximum effort, with Hiram Bocachica pursuing one foul fly ball beyond the field and well into the stands in right field.
And they still lost to the White Sox, 3-2.
The difference in game No. 85 was that the loss was the result of not enough offense – and old complaint – and the inconsistency of youth.
“Matt Thornton threw fastballs by major league hitters looking fastball,” manager Bob Melvin said after Thornton’s first major league start. “He hit 97-98 mph a few times. The issue with Matt is going to be control.
“He walked an average of one batter an inning in the minors … “
That average went up Saturday.
Given leads of 1-0 and 2-1, Thornton got to the fifth inning with a one-run lead and a case of rookie jitters.
“This is going to sound strange, but I felt in control of all my pitches,” Thornton said. “The numbers won’t show that, but that’s how I felt.”
With one out and no one on, Thornton walked Juan Uribe. Aaron Rowand grounded a single into left field, and Thornton got Maglio Ordonez on a soft grounder that moved both runners up.
First base was open, so the Mariners put Carlos Lee there with an intentional walk that loaded the bases with two outs.
Thornton then unintentionally walked Paul Konerko, who’d homered earlier in the game. Konerko’s walk forced home the tying run.
In the bullpen, Putz was warming up.
Thornton followed Konerko’s walk with one to Joe Crede, forcing home the go-ahead run.
“I threw a couple of good pitches that didn’t go my way, but I never thought ‘Man, I can’t throw a strike,’” Thornton said. “I just missed. You can’t walk three guys and force in two runs.
“I’ve got to be better than that. I’ve got to stop that inning, but I didn’t. I’ve got to adjust, and I didn’t.”
Melvin said that “when he made them put the ball in play, they only got three hits and one run. The walks were the difference in winning and losing tonight.”