Posted by Chip Stevenson
I took this picture of myself right after the game ended
I'm absolutely fuming right now.
I just saw the Tags lose 3-2 to the Mariners tonight, which pushed them to 7 back in the AL Central, and also made them fall below .500 all in one freakin swing of the bat by Jeff Clement.
Fernando Rodney who has been absolutely horrendous this year comes into the game in the 7th inning in a 2-1 game and promptly announces to everyone that the only pitch he can throw over the plate is his changeup when he throws 5 pitches to the first batter- 3 fastballs that were nowhere near the strike zone and 2 changeups that were right over the plate. He luckily got out of the 7th inning unscathed, having preserved the Tags' slim 2-1 lead. Great. His night is over. He snuck by and "did his job".... or at least that's what I thought. Jim Leyland had other ideas.
Rodney came out to start the 8th inning after having thrown exactly 0 fastballs for strikes in the 7th yet miraculously escaping without giving up a run. Leyland has both Dolsi and Fossum warming up so I'm ok with the move at this point- If Rodney gets into any sort of trouble, Leyland will just bring in one of those guys... or so I thought. Rodney gets the first guy to line out dangerously to the warning track and then he walks Sexson in an at bat that featured 6 pitches- 4 fastballs that were outside of the strike zone (Sexson at almost 7 feet tall has the biggest strike zone in the majors, mind you) and 2 changeups for strikes. Great, Rodney's night is over. Clement, a lefty, is coming up and Fossum, a LOOGIE, is ready to go. Ok, Clement is walking to the plate, where is Leyland making his slow walk to the mound to take Rodney out? Surely, he can't be serious. Up to this point, Rodney still had not thrown a single strike with his fastball yet Leyland lets him pitch to a guy who had already hit a home run in the game with a lefty pitcher warmed up.
Needless to say, Clement dropped a Cleveland Steamer all over a Rodney changeup for a game winning 2 run home run.
Yes, Rodney was just terrible tonight, but I blame this loss completely on Leyland for not taking him out when all signs pointed toward the impending disaster. Awful game that had terrible consequences in the standings, in the Tags' won-loss record, and in the attitudes of the Tagers faithful.
Hey, dont worry though... Rodney DID end up throwing ONE strike with his fastball as he finished up the inning, bringing it to a grand total of one fastball strike in 2 innings pitched. Something to build on for the next time he has to protect a 1 run lead for 2 innings.
-Angry Chip Stevenson