So 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 of ideas.
The Mariners found out why in a painful 6-5 walk-off loss to them 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 put himself in the middle of a firestorm thanks to an imaginary arrow.
Yes, an arrow.
After getting the final two outs of the 8th 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 that 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 reliever for Scioscia back in 2010-2011.
“No, I’m friends with everyone,” he said.
Since the arrow is not real and technically invisible, it’s hard to know if it hit the intended target. Regardless of intent or aim, the premature celebration didn’t go unnoticed by the Angels’ players.
So 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 him.
Yes, this was a baseball game and not grown men simulating the Hunger Games – just a little gamesmanship between rivals.
“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 do that to 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 game-winning run.
Arrows or not, getting a five-out save with Trout, Pujols and Hamilton starting the ninth would’ve been difficult. McClendon’s bullpen was so depleted after 28 innings in two games. 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.”
Yes, Monday is a new day. The Mariners (52-46) will open up a seven-game homestand at Safeco Field. And McClendon believes there will be no residual wounds – emotional or mental – from the flying arrows.
“It’s a tough loss, but we move on,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of tough losses. This certainly isn’t one we are going to dwell on.”