BY Anthony Dion 11:35PM 05/13/2014

Mariners’ Rodney fouls Iwakuma gem vs. Price

Nearly 14,000 spectators at Safeco Field Tuesday had their first in-person glimpse of Tampa Bay’s Cy Young Award-winning pitcher David Price in the duel many expected. Unfortunately for them, it was not the outcome they wanted. The Rays scored two …

Nearly 14,000 spectators at Safeco Field Tuesday had their first in-person glimpse of Tampa Bay’s Cy Young Award-winning pitcher David Price in the duel many expected. Unfortunately for them, it was not the outcome they wanted. The Rays scored two ninth-inning runs off  closer Fernando Rodney to beat Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariners 2-1.

Iwakuma and Price, two of the top pitchers in the American League, battled for eight innings to a near stalemate. Seattle (20-19) held a 1-0 lead from the first inning, thanks to an RBI groundout by Robinson Cano that scored rookie James Jones, who led off with a double for the second consecutive night.

For eight innings, Iwakuma toyed with Tampa Bay (17-23), losers of five of their past six. His combination of fastball, splitter, curve and change-up induced 11 groundball outs to go with five strikeouts. After yielding a one-out double to David DeJesus, Iwakuma retired the next 13 batters in a row and 20 of 22.

“I thought (Iwakuma) was outstanding,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “If you really think about what he’s done, I mean really put it into proper context, he had no spring training, maybe four bullpens, one (simulation) game and one rehab start . . . He’s just been phenomenal.”

After working his way through a minor jam in the eighth in which the Rays had the tying run on first with none out, Iwakuma was pulled after 97 pitches.

It’s a move that McClendon has made routinely through 39 games. With Iwakuma making just his third start since returning from the disabled list, McClendon didn’t hesitate. Iwakuma (2-0, 1.59 ERA) threw 24 pitches in the eighth.

“I’ve got one of the best closers in the game, and this guy is going to save a bunch of games for us. It just didn’t go his way tonight. That’s baseball, it happens,” added McClendon. “We’ll pick up the pieces and move on.”

Rodney gave up a lead-off homer to DeJesus on a 3-2 pitch to tie the score. He retired the next two hitters. But after back-to-back singles, Matt Joyce put the Rays ahead to stay with a line drive single to center. McClendon pulled Rodney and Danny Farquhar got the final out. Damage was done.

It was another tough night for the Mariners offense. Price came in with a 3-3 record and 4.53 ERA, sub-par numbers for the former the ace of the staff. He entered with the most hits allowed by any AL pitcher and tied for third in homers allowed (nine).

Yet the 28-year-old kept the Mariners quiet for most of the night. After Jones scored, Price allowed just five more hits, walked none and struck out 12 for his second complete game victory of the season.

The Mariners were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“He wasn’t coming out,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He had 12 strikeouts, was so sharp, and kept hitting the glove. Jose Molina did a great job with him. From the side, just watching his face, he was totally locked in tonight . . . He picked us up big time and a great, great effort on his part.”

Seattle has a chance to win the fifth of its past six series in the rubber game Wednesday afternoon before a short, five-game road trip.


OF Michael Saunders (left knee) missed his third straight start. He remains day-to-day, although McClendon said it is unlikely Saunders will play Wednesday . . . With another hit Tuesday, Cano has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games. His first-inning RBI tied Kyle Seager with 22 for second-most on the club . . . Mike Zunino extended his hitting streak to six games with a double in the fifth inning . . . Iwakuma has a scoreless inning streak of 16 innings, the longest streak for a Mariner this season.


  • jafabian

    If any team is going to score on Rodney it’s Tampa. McClendon handled the dissapointment well. Other managers would have gone nuts after the game. Overall a good series for the M’s.

    • art thiel

      McClendon is about as even-tempered as I’ve seen. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, but he learned from Leyland that if/when you expend emotional capital, time it to mean something.

      • jafabian

        I get the sense from him that in the right circumstance he could have a blow up similar to Pinella or Holmgren.

  • Bittermelon

    Don’t forget the outrageous strike-out call on Cano in the 9th inning on a pitch well off the plate. Kuma was also denied strikes on a couple pitches that were strikes for Price when he threw them. None of it probably mattered given the general offensive ineptitude, but it was the second night in a row that there were just blatant problems with the strike zone.

    • art thiel

      The Cano call was egregious. But the zone problem is far secondary to a well pitched game from Price.

  • Matt712

    I understand why McClendon did it: Chapter 9, paragraph 7 of Major League Baseball Managing for Dummies (Pocket Game Day Edition) clearly states, “If your starting pitcher makes it through 8 innings with a lead and over 90 pitches – even if he’s thrown a shutout – he should ALWAYS be pulled in favor of your closer.”

    I hate the decision. Always have. Always will. It happened to Felix this year too. The thinking, of course, is that it’s the safe bet. But I think – in this specific situation, when your ace is throwing a gem – it’s actually the riskier one because the downside is so demoralizing… to the fans and surely to the player as well.

    Blown saves happen, but when the game is yanked away like that, it’s particularly galling. Even to win would be a little less sweet than a complete game shutout. Part of being a manager, according to the manual.

    • art thiel

      McClendon said Kuma was out of gas — he had a long eighth — and I’m not prepared to call him a liar. It was also just his third MLB game this season.

  • Big

    When Rodney was procured he wasn’t noted as a lock down closer. It will be a wild ride while Rodney remains the M’s closer or he is simply the best we have. Painful 9th inning to watch. Iwakuma is a gem and he needed to be protected this early coming back from injury.

    • art thiel

      While Rodney is a direct and easy culprit, the Mariners’ first four hits off Price were doubles. One more single and the some of the pressure leaves the ninth.

  • Bizzy Dean

    Missing item of note: The M’s have scored a pathetic total of two runs in Kuma’s last two starts. If they’d won last night it would have meant Kuma had been forced to throw two straight shut-outs to win. Price notwithstanding, that’s absolutely pathetic. It’s the same syndrome, and fate, Felix has suffered the last forever.

    Nice that the M’s can rack it up against lame-o’s like Houston and KC, but when they come up against real pitching they’re the same old bag o’ impotence.