Fernando Rodney’s new look produced an all-too-familiar result Sunday when the Seattle Mariners closed a what-could-have-been weekend at Yankee Stadium with a 2-1 loss.
Rodney arrived Sunday sporting a new look — his hair dyed an orange/copper hue with highlights in his beard. A few hours later, he served up a decisive home run to Mark Teixeira with two outs in the eighth inning.
Teixeira turned on a 98-mph fastball on a 1-2 count and sent it 358 feet into the right-field seats.
“I threw it at the knee,” Rodney said. “That’s why he got lucky. In that situation, I want to throw my fastball. I don’t want to throw my change-up. It’s a small ballpark, and I want to go with my best pitch.”
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The result was another momentum-robbing loss in a closeout game. The Mariners are 2-13 in their past 15 series finales. They have also lost eight consecutive rubber games.
All of which goes a long way toward explaining why they are 42-50.
On Sunday, they wasted a strong outing by Felix Hernandez because they couldn’t solve Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who entered the game with a 5.47 ERA.
“He was good today,” center fielder Austin Jackson said. “He was using both sides of the plate with his fastball, and he was keeping you off-balance with the off-speed.”
Hernandez and Sabathia each allowed one run over six innings in sweltering Bronx conditions, although both clubs missed scoring chances before the Mariners broke through in the fifth inning.
Jesus Montero led off with a single, and Chris Taylor, after fouling off two sacrifice attempts, served a soft single into right field. The runners advanced to second and third on Mike Zunino’s sacrifice.
Jackson then punched an RBI single up the middle.
The Mariners settled for just one run, though, when Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano struck out by chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
New York pulled even in the sixth after Brett Gardner led off with a walk.
Alex Rodriguez struck out, but Teixeira — with Gardner running — grounded a single into center through a vacated defensive position. Gardner reached third.
Hernandez stuck out Brian McCann but slapped his hip in frustration when Carlos Beltran punched a two-out RBI single through the left side.
“The curveball stayed up a little bit,” Hernandez said, “and he hit it pretty good. So I was (ticked) about that.”
Hernandez then stranded two runners by retiring Chase Headley on a fly to center. When neither Hernandez nor Sabathia returned for the seventh, the game shifted to a battle of bullpens.
New York’s Justin Wilson and Vidal Nuno worked scoreless seventh innings. Dellin Betances (6-2) worked around two walks in the Mariners’ eighth, and Nuno got the first out in the bottom of the inning.
McClendon then turned to Rodney to face Rodriguez and Teixeira.
“Teixeira is 4 for 7 with three home runs and a double off (Mark) Lowe,” McClendon explained. “Rodney did a fantastic job (Saturday) against A-Rod, and he did it again today. Two strikes on Teixeira.
“This is a results-oriented business. If he gets him out, we wouldn’t be talking about this.”
But he didn’t, and we are.
“We wanted it about belt-high,” catcher Zunino said. “It just got down a little bit. Usually, that’s not a problem, but pitching down in the zone is a bad thing sometimes.”
Andrew Miller gained his 20th save by closing out New York’s victory. Rodney fell to 2-4 and his ERA jumped to 5.59 ERA. The new-look hair color is staying, though.
“It’s nothing about that,” he said. “I’m not (superstitious) that way. I know it’s going to be better.”
MONDAY: Seattle (LHP J.A. Happ: 4-5, 4.14 ERA) at Detroit (RHP Alfredo Simon: 8-6, 4.53), 4:08 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM