ANAHEIM, Calif. — Maybe shooting an imaginary arrow at the Angels dugout when you have just a one-run lead and still have to face Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the bottom of the ninth inning isn’t the best idea.
The Mariners found out why in a painful 6-5 walkoff loss on Sunday at Angels Stadium.
Up 5-4, Mariners closer Fernando Rodney was called on for a five-out save to secure the win and a series win for Seattle. He failed do so while putting himself in the middle of a firestorm thanks to an imaginary arrow.
Yes, an arrow.
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After getting the final two outs of the eighth inning and stranding a runner on first base, Rodney broke out his traditional ninth-inning celebration of pulling out an imaginary arrow out of a quiver and firing it. But instead of in the air, this one was at the Angels dugout.
Why would he do such a thing? Did he think it was the ninth inning?
“I didn’t see that so I don’t know,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “So that’s a question you have to ask him.”
When asked, Rodney was matter of fact in his response.
“I did it for the fans,” he said. “When I came out, they booed me. I did that for them. It’s part of the game.”
Well, baseball purists might disagree with that last sentiment. But Rodney said it wasn’t aimed at Angels manager Mike Scioscia. The two had their disagreements when he was a reliever for Scioscia in 2010 and 2011.
“No, I’m friends with everyone,” he said.
Regardless of intent or aim, the premature celebration didn’t go unnoticed by the Angels players.
In the ninth inning when Rodney walked Trout and Pujols doubled to right field to score him from first base, the ensuing celebration was obvious and predictable. Pujols pulled his own imaginary arrow and fired it at the celebrating Angels dugout and Trout grabbed his own arrow and fired one back at Pujols.
“It was spur of the moment,” Trout said. “It’s baseball. We’re having fun. It was a pretty exciting inning.”
Rodney said he didn’t see Pujols and Trout’s mimicry.
“They did?” he said. “They got emotional, maybe. They beat me. That’s all right. That’s why they did that, I think. I’ll have to check the video.”
Pujols had been waiting a long time to mimic Rodney.
“I’ve known him for 15 years,” Pujols said. “I told him I would do that to him one day.”
Trout hung out with Rodney at the All-Star Game last week and laughed about the situation.
“We’re cool for sure,” he said. “Like I keep saying, Rodney is Rodney. He’s a funny guy. No hard feelings. He’s out there competing. We’re competing against him. Just one of the times we finally got him.”
Of course, the array of arrows didn’t actually decide the win. It looked like Rodney might somehow escape any more oncoming make-believe projectiles when he got David Freese to ground into a 6-2-3 double play with the bases loaded. The Mariners intentionally loaded the bases with two outs, but Grant Green singled up the middle to score the winning run.
Arrows or not, getting a five-out save with Trout, Pujols and Josh Hamilton starting the ninth would’ve been difficult. McClendon’s bullpen was so depleted after 28 innings in the previous two games that he had no other choice.
“We did what we had to do,” he said.
It almost worked.
“I stayed with it,” Rodney said. “I kept throwing strikes. I thought I made a good pitch and got the ground ball but we didn’t get the out. That’s part of the game. Tomorrow is another day.”
“It’s a tough loss, but we move on,” McClendon said. “We’ve had a lot of tough losses. This certainly isn’t one we are going to dwell on.”
Seattle jumped all over Angels starter Tyler Skaggs in the first inning. Kyle Seager blasted his 16th homer of the season, a solo shot to right field. The Mariners tacked on two more runs. Corey Hart blooped an RBI single into center field just out of the reach of a diving Trout. Dustin Ackley followed with a single to left to score another run.
Chris Young couldn’t quite make the 3-0 lead hold up. He gave a run right back in the first inning on an RBI double from Hamilton. In the third inning, Kole Calhoun and Trout hit back-to-back homers to tie the score at 3-3.
The Mariners scored twice in the seventh and Howie Kendrick singled in Trout to make it 5-4.
Joe Beimel started the eighth inning but gave up a single to Efren Navarro. He came back to get Green to fly out to right field. McClendon then called on Rodney, who struck out pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta and got Kole Calhoun to fly out to end the inning.
It was all arrows after that.
|Mariners closer Fernando Rodney has 27 saves this year, with three blown saves and four losses. A look at his blown saves:|
|April 16 @ Texas||0.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs||L, 3-2|
|May 13 vs. Tampa Bay||0.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs||L, 2-1|
|July 20 @ L.A. Angels||1.1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs||L, 6-5|
|Note: Rodney had converted 16 straight save opportunities.|
|AL wild-card standings|
|The top two wild-card teams play each other in a one-game playoff.|