ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A new day, a chance to forget.
Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney spoke for the first time Sunday since blowing his fifth save in a 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees in 11 innings on Saturday at Tropicana Field. The Rays held a 3-1 lead after eight, but Rodney allowed two runs and two hits with a walk in the ninth in the latest struggle in an uncommon season for him.
Coupled with a blown save in a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, Rodney’s missed opportunity Saturday marked his first consecutive blown save chances since 2010, when he did so on Sept. 8 and 10.
“It’s nothing,” Rodney said before the Rays began the final game of a three-game series with the American League East-leading Yankees. “I can do it. I just try to make a good pitch … Last two ballgames, one pitch (away). Amazing. They got good contact … Just come ready for the next day.”
Rodney, whose five blown saves have come in 14 chances this season, said he still has confidence in his ability. On Saturday night, Rays manager Joe Maddon refused to consider a closer-by-committee approach, adding in a tweet that, “As long as Fernando doesn’t lose confidence in himself, I’m not going to lose confidence in him.”
“I’ve got my confidence,” said Rodney, who has a 6.05 ERA. “That’s more important, to try to be myself. That happened. That’s fine. I know tomorrow it’s another day. I know I’ve got my stuff … I think it’s too early to make a decision, because he knows I’m trying. I’m trying to do better. I’m trying to get outs. I’m trying to strike them out. I’m trying to get ground balls. What happens sometimes is I make a bad pitch.”
Rodney’s slide stands in contrast to his historic 2012 campaign. Then, he had 48 saves in 50 chances and a 0.60 ERA, a season record for relievers, topping Dennis Eckersley’s 0.61 from 1990.
Maddon said Saturday that Rodney’s slump “has been really awkward to watch,” but the manager added that Rodney will be given more chances to close.
“It’s about the game,” Rodney said. “Every day, you do something right, you learn something … I’m ready for tonight. No panic. I’m positive. I’m ready to win.”