MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 11: Fernando Rodney #56 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates a win against the Minnesota Twins on August 11, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rays defeated the Twins 4-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Look at that beautiful archer's pose to the left. If you stayed up late last night to watch the game, this is what you were expecting when Fernando Rodney came out for the ninth inning. Sure, he was pitching for the fourth day in a row and the sixth in the last eight, but this is 2012 Fernando Rodney we're talking about. The Rays only have a one run lead? Whatever, Rodney's got this under control. We're all just waiting to see that bow and arrow. No one more so than Carlos Pena.
In an attempt to emulate the success of his gladiator-in-arms, Carlos Pena decided to try his own "finishing move" tonight. After Rodney allowed a single to Kyle Seager to lead off the ninth, Chone Figgins pinch hit and laid down a sac bunt to move him into scoring position. Not content to wait until the end of the game, Pena unleashed his new finishing move: The Grenade Toss.
After weighing the possibility of gunning down Seager at second, Pena opted for the "sure out" and tossed the ball to Sean Rodriguez who was covering first. This is where the real beauty of "The Grenade Toss" was shown. Instead of getting the ball ten feet to Rodriguez, Pena lobbed the ball over him and sent it rolling into the tarp along the first base stands where it exploded and blew up the game. Instead of the Mariners having a man on second with one out, they had men on second and third with no outs.
Talk about a "Finishing Move." Johnny Cage would be proud.
Justin Smoak would not only knock the tying run in on a sac fly to center, but also move Figgns to third. The Rays brought in Ben Zobrist to form the five-man infield, but he ultimately wasn't needed as Rodney K'd Miguel Olivo on a 3-2 change up. Unfortunately, Rodney then allowed the game-winning hit to Eric Thames: a soft bloop over second to give the Mariners a walk-off win.
Rodney wasn't his sharpest tonight. But, then again, if Pena actually converts the out that the Mariners tried to give away, I'm probably writing a much happier recap right now.
Notes and Rays Tank after the jump...
What this "ninth inning unfortunateness" did was erase the talking points from an otherwise boring game. Since they're rendered moot, I'll just list them for you:
- The Rays got off to a great start against Kevin Millwood with two runs in the first, but then crapped the bed the rest of the game.
- The Rays were 0-for-9 with Runners in scoring position. (Jennings scored on a B.J. Upton triple, and Upton came across on a Longo sac fly).
- The strike zone was especially wide on the outside corner to right handed hitters. Millwood took notice of this. Especially against Longoria.
- Desmond Jennings looked great at the plate last night. 3-for-3 until he GIDP'd with runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh.
- Matt Moore continued to look like a baller tonight. 7IP, 1ER, 6H, 1BB, 9K on 95 pitches (70 strikes). Like Price in his last start, Moore was effective in drilling that fastball inside to righties. He struck out the side in his last inning of work.
- The Mariners pre-ninth-inning run was on back-to-back doubles by Smoak and Olivo with two outs in the second inning. Moore would make Olivo look foolish after that with that aforementioned stiff inside fastball.
- Like Rodney, Joel Peralta pitched for the fourth night in a row. He worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
- Matt Joyce looked atrocious at the plate against Cy Millwood. He was lifted for Rodriguez in the eighth.
- The seven-game win streak is snapped, but, hey, the Rays had a seven game win streak. So that was nice.
- The good news is that the Rays face Felix Hernandez tomorrow, and he's no Cy Millwood. Jeremy Hellickson takes the bump @ 3:40 PM for some day baseball.