Considering the records they had going into the game, a pitching duel between Aaron Harang (5-6, 5.44) and Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-6, 6.63) was not expected, but they were both getting hitters out, mostly on fly outs and pop ups.
Having been shut down by Cliff Lee on Friday 1-0, and by Felix Hernandez, 5-1 on Saturday, Cincinnati bats were expected to explode. They did not.
Though Rowland-Smith had an ERA of over six, his home ERA was under three and he pitched accordingly allowing three hits through 6 plus innings. The Mariners had three hits off Harang and they all came in the fourth inning when they scored their only run. Leading 1-0 Aardsma came in and pitched the ninth striking out Jay Bruce and pinch hitter Laynce Nix before Chris Heisey ended the game by fouling out to Casey Kotchman at first, and with that put out, Kotchman set the record for consecutive errorless games at 239.
So Aardsma gets credit for the save, but in truth the game was saved in the seventh inning by Brandon League.
Rowland-Smith was winless on the season. He struck out the last batter he faced in the sixth and had thrown 95 pitches. What better way to give the guy confidence than to bring in a reliever in the seventh.
With Lee and Hernandez pitching complete games Friday and Saturday and with a day off on Thursday, the bullpen was well rested and they have Monday off as well.
But Ryan came out for the seventh and walked the first batter, his fourth of the game. Still no move was made to the bullpen. Smith then walks the next batter, his fifth, and Don Wakamatsu finally came out of the dugout and brought in League. Corky Miller then bunted the runners to second and third which put the potential winning run at second.
So instead of giving Rowland-Smith a chance to win, Wakamatsu now put Ryan in position to lose the game and go 0-7. But League struck out Orlando Cabrera and Brandon Phillips, preventing the tying run and the potential winning run from scoring.
Aardsma saved the win for Ryan, but League saved the game and saved Wakamatsu from all the second guessers had the Reds taken the lead and won the game. It is easy to second guess when things go bad, but I will second guess the late pitching change and will give League the true save of the game.