Up 7-3, the Mariners were cruising along with relievers Danny Farquhar and Charlie Furbush combining to pitch three scoreless innings.
But McClendon eschewed setup man Yoervis Medina, who had been warming in the eighth, for Rodney in the ninth inning. It was a non-save situation, which typically doesn’t yield great results for closers.
Rodney didn’t just struggle. He imploded. The first five hitters went double, walk, double, single and walk. The A’s got two runs off that barrage to cut it to 7-5. Rodney got Billy Butler to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, but a run scored to make it 7-6. With two outs, Eric Sogard dumped a single into center to score the tying run. Rodney finally ended the misery, getting Stephen Vogt to ground out to second.
“I don’t know what happened, man,” Rodney said. “I got down in the count early and I tried to find the strike zone and they made good contact and swings. I felt like I was missing a little.”
So why Rodney with a four-run lead?
“I was putting my closer in trying to win a game,” McClendon said. “I did it a lot last year and I will do it every time this year. And I will tell you this, ‘You are a fool if you don’t put your closer in with a four-run lead.’ Because what happens is you’ll send someone else out there and a runner gets on base and then you’re burning two guys because you are bringing in your closer then.”
It was a stomach punch of an inning.