You have to hand it to the Oakland Athletics. They are a smart team that uses their information very wisely. The A’s had tied a huge game with the Seattle Mariners up with a home run by Josh Donaldson off of perhaps the best pitcher in the American League. The homer ensured that King Felix could not seal the deal on perhaps the biggest start of his career in Seattle. In the tenth inning, they drew Fernando Rodney. And they nailed it.
The A’s didn’t hit the guy who has averaged 43 saves the past three seasons. They simply would not swing. Rodney has one big flaw. He walks people. Last year, his rate per nine innings was 4.86. This year, Rodney is walking people at a rate of 4.04 per nine. But he usually succeeds because he gets people to swing.
Fernando Rodney does not like the strike zone. Only 47.7% of his pitches are thrown in the strike zone. He likes to stay off the corners and throw his change below the knees. It usually works. It did not work against the A’s. All the A’s had to do was stand there.
Four walks later, the A’s scored the winning run. It was a huge victory in the chase for the wild card. It was a huge win because they have Jon Lester pitching today. It was a huge win because ever since they traded for Jon Lester, they stopped hitting.
But in the tenth inning, they didn’t have to hit. They just had to stand there and let Rodney do all the work for them. Four walks. Rodney threw 28 pitches. Only ten of them were strikes. Only six of them were in the strike zone but the A’s swung at eight of Rodney’s offerings. They needn’t have.
Here, courtesy of Brooks Baseball is Rodney’s evening in all its glory. The A’s aren’t hitting. But they know what to do when they don’t have to hit. The only arrow shot in this one went into the hearts of Mariner fans.