Seattle Mariners

Rodney’s meltdown in ninth denies Mariners chance for sweep

Mariners relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, middle, hands the ball to manager Lloyd McClendon during the ninth inning Wednesday. Rodney blew a two-run lead, and the M’s lost in 11 innings.
Mariners relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, middle, hands the ball to manager Lloyd McClendon during the ninth inning Wednesday. Rodney blew a two-run lead, and the M’s lost in 11 innings. The Associated Press

Welp … maybe Fernando Rodney isn’t quite fixed.

The Seattle Mariners saw the chance for a three-game sweep at Coors Field slip away Wednesday afternoon when Rodney blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning before they lost to the Colorado Rockies in 11 innings, 7-5.

The end came when Michael McKendry launched a two-run homer against Mayckol Guaipe on a hanging two-out slider that ended the 4-hour, 6-minute marathon.

But make no mistake: The Mariners spit back the chance to stoke some recent momentum by again placing their trust in Rodney with the game on the line.

“It’s a shame,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I used a bullpen that was on fumes going into the off day (Thursday). They all came through. Rodney walks a guy… and a bloop here. It’s just a tough ninth inning.”

To be fair, Rodney did have a string of five consecutive hitless outings, covering 51/3 innings, when he replaced Joe Beimel with a 5-3 lead, one out and nobody on base.

Problems started immediately, though.

Rodney walked D.J. LeMahieu, who scored on Ben Paulsen’s line-drive RBI double into the left-center gap. Kyle Parker followed with a game-tying RBI single to right.


Rodney said the pitches to Paulsen and Parker weren’t mistakes.

“I can’t throw a pitch better than that (to Paulsen),” Rodney said. “It was a good pitch. Down. He just…(Rodney pantomimed a lunging swing). In this park, everything in the air (is trouble).

“Most of the time in that situation, I try to get a ground ball to get a double play and get out of the inning. I think I made a good pitch. You can see that ball was down.”

And the pitch to Parker?

“It was a good pitch, too,” Rodney insisted.

After a two-out walk moved the winning run into scoring position, McClendon summoned Rob Rasmussen, who stranded two runners and got the game to extra innings.

The Mariners missed a chance to regain the lead in the 10th inning after Logan Morrison worked back from an 0-2 hole against Christian Friedrich for a walk. Mike Zunino followed with a four-pitch walk.

The runners moved to second and third on Seth Smith’s sacrifice bunt.

Rafael Betancourt replaced Friedrich, and the Rockies shortened their infield. Ketel Marte struck out looking, and opportunity slipped away when Kyle Seager popped to left.

Paulsen started the winning rally with a one-out single to center. Guaipe (0-3) struck out Parker before McKendry drove a 2-2 curve over the left-field wall.

“I was trying to throw the ball down in zone,” Guaipe said. “A slider. It was right in the middle (of the plate). As soon as I threw the pitch, I knew I made a mistake.”

Yohan Flande (2-1) got the victory. He was the Rockies’ eighth pitcher.

Until Rodney’s meltdown, the Mariners were positioned for a victory after Franklin Gutierrez’s two-run homer broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning. He jumped a 95-mph fastball from John Axford.

Taijuan Walker was also in line for a victory after following up his brilliant one-hitter against Minnesota by pitching into the eighth inning. He gave up three runs, all on a Carlos Gonzalez homer in the sixth.

“It was down,” Walker said. “It was down around his ankles. He’s a lefty, and they like getting the ball down, and he put a good swing on it.”

Carson Smith replaced Walker after Jose Reyes beat out a one-out infield single in the eighth. Smith ended the inning by getting Nolan Arenado, who is the majors’ co-leader in RBIs, to ground into a double play.

“I had a plan for Carson,” McClendon said. “It was one hitter. He really wasn’t available today, but I thought if I could get one out from him in a big situation, I’d use him.”

That’s why Beimel started the ninth and, in a left-on-left matchup, retired Gonzalez on a swinging strikeout. That got the game to Rodney and … well, you know.

The loss prevented the Mariners from extending their winning streak to four games and forced them to settle for a 4-3 road trip that began with a four-game split at Minnesota.

“It was one of those that just kind of sucked, you know?” Walker said. “It would have been huge to get the win today and get the sweep. But it happens.”

Too often.

FRIDAY: Texas (LHP Cole Hamels: 0-0, 1.17 ERA) at Seattle (RHP Hisashi Iwakuma: 2-2, 4.47), 7:10 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM,