There are really only a select subset of reactions to a blown save. One is a careless shrug, usually reserved for late in the season when the games don't really matter. "Because Mariners," as it were. Another is resigned depression, a sinking inevitability that manifests in a predictable, awful way. Pessimism taking charge and refusing to let go. The third is irrational anger, pointing the finger at anyone available, often skipping over the pitcher and headed right for the manager, general manager, owner, Dave Sims, whoever.
Last night's Fernando Rodney roller coaster was a combination of all these things. Initial anger at the home run, sinking inevitability with the go-ahead runners on base, and resigned depression when he did exactly what it felt like he would. Matt covered the entire game last night in the recap, so if you want to re-live the good parts while ignoring the bad, there's some of that in there.
The reaction to last night's loss was as angry and irrational as I've ever seen Twittersphere since I've been in control of the Lookout Landing account. 8 innings of brilliance from Iwakuma wasted made this loss exceptionally tough to swallow, and paired with the M's familiar inability to score runs, a 1-0 win would have felt like a tremendous accomplishment. Three games over .500 with a chance to sweep tomorrow feels a thousand times better a chance to fall right back to .500 just 15 hours later.
One of the key sources of anger was immediately directed at Lloyd McClendon, and a) his mistake in not letting Iwakuma finish, and b) his undying love of Fernando Rodney. I expressed some concern about the first myself, hoping that Iwakuma had enough in the tank to finish, but after McClendon's postgame comments, it appears that he did not, again.
Iwakuma said he told McClendon he was done after eight. As for Rodney? McClendon says he'll be back out there tomorrow if situation arises.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) May 14, 2014
Iwakuma was fading in the 8th inning, and his previous appearance ended at 93 pitches in which he also said he was done. It's better to have a pitcher know his limits, and emotion aside, Iwakuma giving up the go-ahead runs himself wouldn't have made a single bit of difference. Even though Iwakuma's dominance gives the appearance of cruising on forever, there's plenty of validity to this, and it's something that all managers would do at a pitcher's request. Go to the closer, especially if he's been good. Rodney has been good. Iwakuma is still being eased in, and that's easy to forget with just how good he's been in the limited amount of pitches. He's not at full strength. Still, 8 innings of shutout ball should be good enough to win the game.
Knowing that, McClendon's decision to give Rodney the ball is more than justified, it's expected. A lot of us think Danny Farquhar is probably better than Fernando Rodney. That's just fine, but Farquhar just blew a game in even more spectacular fashion a few days ago. He's hardly as infallible as we, and that includes me, enjoys posturing. Iwakuma says he's gassed and Lloyd has to choose a guy to protect a one run lead, Rodney is as good as any. Despite all the jokes about roller coasters, experiences, and broken arrows -- Rodney had been terrific coming into last night, even with all the ups and downs.
One home run and subsequent unraveling doesn't automatically make Fernando Rodney the same pitcher he was through 2011. As Colin pointed out, last night was Rodney's first home run given up since May 22nd, 2013 - nearly an entire year ago. That doesn't seem right, does it? Fernando Rodney seems a lot worse than he actually is, and he's the guy any manager would stick on the mound given the events that unfolded.
This post isn't meant to rub in the events of last night or force you to relive them. It's just a simple reminder -- for all of us -- that taking a step back is always the smart thing to do. We usually don't have all the information about a scenario when we vent on Twitter, texts, or game threads. This is baseball. Bad things happen, and good players have bad games. But don't think I didn't slam my hat into the ground when Rodney hung that change to DeJesus.