By Shannon Drayer
Thankfully, the Mariners have made it back to Seattle after their three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim. It was a little touch and go as the arrow that the team plane usually follows back home was lodged in the Angels' dugout and we learned that closer Fernando Rodney does not have a spare.
In on-field interviews following road wins, I always ask Rodney where the imaginary arrow he shot moments earlier in celebration was headed. His answer has always been that it's on its way to the next city. I believe it was after a game in Houston earlier this season where he told me that the arrow would guide the plane back to Seattle. We might even be able to see it if we looked out the window, he told me.
Rodney's save celebration – pretending to pull an arrow from a quiver and shooting it skyward – has been good fun and should continue to be good fun despite the gaffe Sunday afternoon. Rodney went the routine after securing the final two outs of the eighth inning then allowed two runs in the ninth for a blown save and a 6-5 loss.
Arrows are meant to be shot when there is no more game to be played. That way, nobody gets hurt, not that I think Rodney's actions with imaginary artillery cost the team a win. Yes, it may have woke the Angels up a bit as shortstop Grant Green said after the game, although I doubt that an offense led by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols really needed to be roused from slumber, particularly in a close game.
From the comments I have heard after the game, it sounds like they were more amused than angered by Rodney's actions. Trout wrote it off as Rodney being Rodney and Pujols said that he's know Rodney for 15 years and had been waiting for the opportunity to fire the arrow back at him. It was a gotcha moment, but both Trout and Pujols acknowledged that it was Rodney who held the advantage in gotchas.
And what of Rodney aiming the arrow toward the Angels' dugout? Well, he said the arrow was for the fans who booed him, and while I prefer not to doubt a player at his word, I wouldn't be surprised if catcher Mike Zunino had a more accurate read on the situation.
"I think it was just one of those things," Zunino said at his locker before Rodney spoke. "Forgetting what time of the game it was. We've played so many innings the last three days that I think everyone was losing track."
If this was the case, I don't think it was a conscious case of not knowing where he was in the game. I think it was more getting lost in the moment after securing two big outs. In one of the videos I saw, it almost looked like he hesitated after starting the familiar pantomime, almost an "uh oh, now what?" kind of moment before turning toward the Angels' dugout. Or beyond, as Rodney insisted the arrow wasn't aimed at the Angels or his former manager, Mike Scioscia.
"No, no, I'm friends with everybody," he said when it was suggested that there was perhaps animosity between the two. "He's a great manager and a good person. I do that to the fans. The way they boo me and I shoot it that way."
Rodney pitched an additional inning for only the second time this season. It was the first time since May 2013 he was asked to get a five-out save. A tall order under most circumstances but even more so with the heart of the Angels' order up in the ninth.
I don't think the early arrow was a distraction for Rodney. Regardless, while he said that he didn't see the eighth-inning arrow shoot, I would imagine that manager Lloyd McClendon will have a little talk with his closer about keeping just one arrow in the quiver and saving it for the final out.