Mariners’ McClendon defends ninth-inning strategy

OAKLAND, Calif. — Use your All-Star closer to protect a four-run lead in the ninth inning? In a non-save situation.

Every time, Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon promised.

It didn’t work Sunday when Fernando Rodney blew that four-run cushion before the Mariners pulled out an 8-7 victory over Oakland in 10 innings on Nelson Cruz’s homer.

But McClendon staunchly defended the strategy.

“I did it a lot last year,” he said, “and I’ll do it every time this year. I’ll tell you this, you’re a fool if you don’t put your closer in with a four-run lead.

“Because what happens is, you send somebody (else) out there, and somebody gets on base, then you’ve burned two guys because you didn’t use your closer.”

Rodney never gave up more than two runs last season in any of his 69 appearances. What happened Sunday, McClendon contends, is an outlier and won’t affect his approach when the situation arises again.

McClendon also pointed to A’s closer Tyler Clippard, also an All-Star in 2014, who surrendered Cruz’s homer in the 10th inning.

“You know what’s going to happen?” McClendon asked. “Clippard will be back out there tomorrow, and so will Rodney. That’s just the way it is. They’re human beings. They give up games. Nobody’s perfect.

“Everybody flies off the handle when a guy blows a game, but I can’t do that. Somebody has to keep their head. I choose to keep mine. So (Rodney) will be back out there tomorrow. Trust me.”

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