Closer Fernando Rodney went to his quiver prematurely — once too often — and the Los Angeles Angels responded with a fatal arrow of their own Sunday in Anaheim in a 6-5 walk-off victory that denied Seattle a series victory. The Mariners blew a 5-3, eighth-inning lead, their bullpen unable to continue its long run of success.
After the Mariners took a 5-3 lead in the seventh, the big hit a Mike Zunino RBI-gapper, reliever Yoervis Medina surrendered a run in the bottom of the frame. Manager Lloyd McClendon brought on Rodney with out out in the eighth in the hope that he could record a five-out save. He started splendidly, retiring Chris Iannetta and Kole Calhoun.
After getting Calhoun on a fly ball, Rodney, who normally performs his ritual only after a save is secured, pulled an imaginary arrow out of his quiver and shot it into the Angels dugout.
“He must have thought it was the ninth inning,” Albert Pujols told reporters, although Rodney would have had to be comatose not to know that he entered the game in the eighth.
In the ninth, Rodney walked the formidable Mike Trout. Pujols then scorched a double down the right-field line, scoring Trout, who is so fast that he slid into second before getting up and scoring from first. As Pujols stood on second, obviously yukking, he imitated the arrow stunt at Rodney, who promptly gave up a single to Josh Hamilton.
Pujols later denied that his imaginary arrow was aimed at Rodney, even though TV cameras showed that it was.
Brushing that off, Rodney intentionally walked Howie Kendrick in order to get to David Freese, who hit into a 6-2-3 double play, the best outcome possible. But after intentionally walking Efren Navarro, who had the walk-off hit against the Mariners Friday night, Rodney served up a game-losing, walk-off single to the obscure Grant Green, making the Mariners losers of two out of three in their first series following the All-Star break.
“We came close,” McClendon said after his club played 37 innings in three days. “That’s baseball, it’s the way it goes. It was a tough loss, but we’ve had a lot of tough losses this year. We won’t dwell on it.
“I’m just very proud of how we went about our business here. We were within three outs of taking two out of three from the best team in baseball. We just didn’t get it done.”
Rodney entered as the American League’s leader in saves with 27, but wound up blowing his third save in 30 chances. Had he better negotiated the top of the Angels’ order in the ninth, the win would have gone to starter Chris Young, who pitched effectively despite allowing 10 hits.
Staked to a 3-0 lead after the Mariners collected five consecutive hits in the first inning with two outs, Young let the Angels back in when he allowed Josh Hamilton’s RBI double in the first and then served up back-to-back home runs to Calhoun and Trout in the third. But he settled down and wound up fanning seven, walking none and holding the Angels to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
“It was a very gutty performance by Chris,” said McClendon. “He didn’t have his best command, but he hung in there and gave us six quality innings.”
Unfortunately for Young, Mariners hitters went into another deep freeze. After receiving Kyle Seager’s 16th homer and RBI singles from Corey Hart and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners didn’t get another hit until the seventh.It was a big seventh.
After Corey Hart led off with a walk, James Jones pinch ran, took second on a ground ball out by Dustin Ackley, and scored on Zunino’s gapper to left center that halted an 0-for-25 skid. Endy Chavez then served up a two-out single to left for the 5-3 lead.
But Medina couldn’t protect it and Rodney couldn’t save it, preventing the Mariners (52-46), who went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position, from moving three games ahead of Cleveland (lost Sunday) for the second AL wild card spot.
With two walk-off losses in their past three games, the Mariners dropped six such contests this season. Last year, they led the American League with 13 walk-off defeats.
Sunday marked the first time since May 2-4 vs. Houston that the Mariners played three consecutive one-run games.
McClendon kept All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano out of Sunday’s lineup due to hamstring stiffness. Cano had an eight-game hitting streak snapped Saturday night. Willie Bloomquist started in his place and went 0-for-4 . . . McClendon also kept Danny Farquhar on the bench Sunday to rest him after recent over work . . . The Mariners have yet to name a starter for Tuesday’s game against the Mets. McClendon said the club will probably “call someone up” from the minor leagues to make the start, although reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who has made one start this season, remains an option . . . After losing Sunday, the Mariners are 4-5 in rubber games, 26-16 against teams with +.500 records and 16-12 against clubs that are currently in a playoff position.
NEXT: The Mariners return to Safeco Field Monday night to begin a three-game series with the New York Mets. LHP Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54) will throw for Seattle. The Mets have yet to name a starter.