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It should have been a nice comfortable, drama-free Saturday afternoon for the Mariners.
Hisashi Iwakuma gave the Seattle a quality outing in his first start of 2014 and his teammates rewarded his return with plenty of run support, scoring eight runs in the seventh inning and nine runs overall.
Nothing is simple for the Mariners, particularly against an Astros team with the worst record in the American League.
They needed the Fernando Rodney Experience to come and clean up Yoervis Medina’s eighth-inning mess with a four-out save to preserve a 9-8 win.
Rodney comes in with bases loaded in the eighth. How many people were thinking wild pitch or bases loaded walk?
Rodney got Pocket Altuve to fly out to end the eighth and the drama.
“He just attacked the strike zone,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “In a situation like that, he knew he had to go right at the guy and just attacked him.”
Of course, Rodney hit Dexter Fowler – the first batter he faced – to put the tying run on first to make it interesting in the ninth. But he came back to strike out Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez and got Marc Krauss to fly out to right to pick up his seventh save of the season.
McClendon didn’t get to watch any of it, having been ejected in the seventh inning. He liked the call to go to Rodney early.
“We didn’t really have a choice,” McClendon said. “I thought Trent made a great move there.”
For the first six innings, the Mariners were meandering toward yet another loss to the lowly Astros. They were doing nothing against starter Dallas Keuchel, who had held them scoreless through five and allowed just two hits. Their approach irked McClendon.
“We were really Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” he said. “For the first part of that game, we had horse$%^& at-bats to be honest with you. The second part of the game we were little bit more patient, got the ball up and got the guy in the strike zone.”
As for the ejection? McClendon wasn’t pleased with the stalling tactics and voiced his opinion to Hoyes, who threw him out while he was sitting on the bench.
“I told him that the manager told the catcher to go talk to the pitcher and he’d already been out there once,” McClendon said. “He was obviously trying to get more (the reliever) more time there and that could be construed as a trip to the mound. I said it’s in the rulebook.”
Once ejected, McClendon stormed onto the field and let umpire Jim Hoyes know what he thought of the call. It was a pretty good little tirade.
Zunino’s bases loaded walk – his first of the season (the other was intentional) – sparked the eight-run seventh inning.
“The whole season I’ve had it planned out like that,” he joked. “I was able to stay patient and look for a pitch I could drive. I got one pitch I swung through and other than that I didn’t.”
Michael Saunders broke it open, doubling to right field to score two runs and make it 4-2. The Mariners continued to wail away at Cisneros. Romero and Cano followed with RBI singles to drive to make it 6- 2. The Astros later went to lefty Raul Valdes with two outs to end the inning. But Seager scored Cano with a double to right-center and Justin Smoak followed a highlight reel two-run homer. Smoak crushed the first pitch he saw from Valdes over the left field stands and up onto the train tracks that trigger the retractable roof, some 50 feet above the stands.
“I hit it pretty good,” he deadpanned. “I was looking for a fastball there and got it.”