Groz Remembers 2001 Mariners: Aaron Sele, the pitcher who ‘fell from the sky’
2001: A Baseball Odyssey – a weekly look back at the record-setting 2001 Mariners and the players who got them there.
Just after Memorial Day 2001 passed and with the Mariners were still soaring, they were reminded of a star who “fell from the sky,” according to general manager Pat Gillick.
In January 2000, Gillick had lost out to the Baltimore Orioles in the quest for free-agent pitcher Aaron Sele because the Orioles were willing to go four years on a new contract. But after Sele took his physical, the Orioles’ medical staff concluded the Sele would break down after about 400 or so more innings, so Baltimore reneged and instead offered Sele a two-year deal.
An angered Sele turned it down, and the WSU product who grew up on the Kitsap Peninsula immediately accepted a two-year deal from the Mariners.
Sele won 17 games in 2000, and guess who he was pitching against on May 31, 2001? Sele was brilliant that day against the Orioles, pitching 7 1/3 innings of four-hit ball as he improved to 8-0 and the Mariners won for the eighth straight time. That winning streak would reach 15 games, their longest of the season.
Sele did eventually suffer a rotator cuff injury as the Orioles doctors predicted, but it was after 550 innings. He was on the Angels at that point in his career after giving the Mariners two years and 32 wins, including two most-satisfying victories over the team that said no.
As the Mariners hit the holiday where it’s traditionally believed that the division-leading teams are likely to win them, they were an unbelievable 40-12 with a 14-game lead that felt unassailable. They were poised to make it a summer to remember.