Seattle closer Fernando Rodney shot an arrow in the air — at least figuratively — and when it came to Earth, he and everyone else at Angel Stadium knew exactly where it was: in the comeback-win column for the rally-happy Angels.
Rodney spiced up a sleepy summer Sunday afternoon when, after ending the eighth inning against his former team by getting Kole Calhoun to fly out to center field, he celebrated with his trademark move of pretending to pull an arrow out of a quiver and firing. He appeared to aim toward the Angels' dugout and Manager Mike Scioscia, who took the closer's job away from Rodney in the first week of the 2011 season, though Rodney said Scioscia wasn't his target.
"I'm friends with everybody. He's a great manager and a good person," Rodney said. "I did it for the fans."
The Angels' reactions ranged from amusement — "Rodney is Rodney," Mike Trout said with a grin — to Scioscia's barely disguised annoyance. "Fernando is animated. Our guys noticed it," Scioscia said several times.
They noticed it. And they did Rodney one better — actually, two better.
Because after Trout led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk and Albert Pujols doubled him home to tie the score at 5-5, Trout and Pujols mimicked Rodney's arrow-shooting gesture. The Angels got the best and final shot when Grant Green's two-out single bounced up the middle to score Josh Hamilton in a 6-5 victory.
That hit the bull's-eye as far as Angels starter Tyler Skaggs was concerned. He said he had not seen Rodney's bow-and-arrow routine but didn't like what he had heard about it.
"I'm glad we scored and won, because that's ridiculous," he said. "Just goes to show you, don't rile up our team, because we have a lot of good players, lot of good hitters, lot of good people. Looking forward to next time we play them."
Green, hitless in four previous at-bats, thought Rodney was foolish to celebrate so early.
"We were hitting well in the game but we didn't really have that key hit," Green said. "He did it kind of at the wrong time with Trout, Pujols and Josh coming up, and you kind of don't want to get those guys fired up, or even more wanting to get a hit than they already do."
Whoa, Pujols insisted. He saw Rodney's move as good fun and, maybe, a misunderstanding on Rodney's part.
"I know Rodney for 15 years and every time I see him I told him I'm going to do that to him if I get a big hit against him. That's why he was laughing. That's his thing," said Pujols, who added he directed his archery exploit toward his dugout, in fun, and not in anger toward Rodney or the Mariners.
"I think he thought it was the ninth inning, because on the board it said it was the ninth inning for the half of that inning."
Interesting theory. Rodney is accustomed to pitching the ninth, but on Sunday was asked to get five outs.
"That's what we were talking," Pujols said of the conversation in the Angels' dugout. "Out there it said the ninth inning for almost half of that inning so they probably thought it was the last out, to center field."
Angels third base coach Gary DiSarcina said he thought Rodney's bow-and-arrow move was "kind of neat for a second." He added, "I think what worked to fire us up was we had Trout, Pujols and Hamilton coming up in the ninth inning.... We've got multiple comeback wins this year. Even though Fernando was an All-Star this year we had confidence in our three guys coming up that we'd push one across."
DiSarcina also said he didn't think Rodney was being disrespectful to the Angels. "It's his thing. His shtick," DiSarcina said.
The Angels' shtick is coming back to win games, with Sunday's game their major league-leading 30th comeback win of the season.
At the very least, it should fuel a rivalry with the Mariners in advance of a possible postseason meeting. The Angels, despite winning 21 of their last 26 games, trail Oakland by 11/2 games and remain in wild-card position, with Seattle.
"That's a good team over there. Every time we play them it's a battle," Trout said. "It's a tough division. I talked to Rodney at the All-Star game. We're cool. Rodney is a funny guy. No hard feelings."
Maybe not, but it's another arrow in their competitive quiver.
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