“In my opinion, I think when I blow the game, the next day I say, ‘I’m better than that. Tomorrow I know I can do my job,’ ” Rodney said. “That’s the attitude I bring to the game. That’s the attitude I’m going to bring tonight if I have a chance to save the game.”

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He is a veteran, 38 years old, with a track record of struggling, then righting himself.

So when Mariners closer Fernando Rodney walked into the clubhouse before Friday’s game against the Rangers, he carried the defiant mindset that, to this point, has served him well in his closing career.

“In my opinion, I think when I blow the game, the next day I say, ‘I’m better than that. Tomorrow I know I can do my job,’ ” Rodney said. “That’s the attitude I bring to the game. That’s the attitude I’m going to bring tonight if I have a chance to save the game.”

The Fernando Rodney Experience has become the Fernando Rodney Debate of late. Rodney has allowed seven hits and six runs in his last two outings — the Mariners lost one of those two games and rallied to win in extra innings in the other. He has only one strikeout in 31/3 innings; in his best years he has averaged a little more than a strikeout per inning.

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But Rodney and McClendon have publicly downplayed any panic.

“How’s Fernando doing?” McClendon said. “Hell, I guess he’s OK, I don’t know. This is not the first time that he’s struggled. It won’t be the last time that he struggles. But I think he’s doing just fine.”

When Rodney struggled early last season, he pointed to his inability to consistently find the strike zone early in the count as the culprit.

That’s the same again this year, and he said hitters could anticipate his pitches.

But Rodney said he isn’t concerned about the results yet because his velocity has been the same as last year.

McClendon echoed his closer.

“I have full confidence that he will bounce back and get it done,” he said.

McClendon defends his team

McClendon opened his usual pregame meeting with reporters with a smile, then adamantly defended his team despite the growing concern from fans.

“This is real important,” he said. “Everybody is giving the American League title, the pennant, to the Seattle Mariners. We’re going to hoist the trophy, we’re going to the World Series, we’re going to win it. And all of that is great.

“But in between, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears; some heartaches, some adversity that you have to go through. You’ve got to be built for it, and you’ve got to handle it. And if you’re lucky, in the end, you’ll be able to hoist that trophy. But to think it’s going to be a fairy-tale season and everything is going to be fine and you’re not going to have three- or four-game losing streaks, come on, that’s ridiculous.

“And to think that the world is coming to an end when you’re 3-6, that’s also ridiculous. This team is fine. This is a real good team. And they’re built for it. Trust me when I tell you: They’re built for it.”

The Mariners opened a nine-game homestand on Friday.