BOSTON – It might be a little premature to break out the old “Two outs, so what?” mantra for this Mariners team. But for one night, it sure seemed fitting.
They were one out away from defeat on Friday night in a game they should have lost. For eight innings, Seattle was inept offensively and poised to drop its fourth game of the trip to a team that had waved the white flag long ago. Yet, for all of Boston’s problems and failures, the reigning world champions were still 44-0 when taking a lead into the ninth inning.
Make that: 44-1.
Down 3-0 and facing Red Sox all-star closer Koji Uehara, the Mariners scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning to rally for an improbable 5-3 win, stunning the crowd of 36,433 at Fenway Park.
It was just the third time this season Seattle (69-58) has won a game when it was trailing after eight innings. The last time the Mariners overcame a three-run deficit in the ninth inning was on May 30, 2009, against the Angels.
“Baseball is a funny game,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “When you think you’ve got it figured out, you tell me, because I don’t know. The first three hours of that game, we didn’t look very good. Our at-bats weren’t very good. All of the sudden with two outs, we turned it on. I can’t figure it out.”
With two outs and Logan Morrison on first, Endy Chavez drew his third walk of the game – something he’d never done. It was a 10-pitch affair in which Chavez had fallen behind 1-2 on the first three pitches.
Said Chavez: “I was just fighting with two strikes and trying to be selective.”
Pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia flared a single into right field to load the bases and bring Austin Jackson to the plate.
Jackson had already stranded five runners in the game, including a pop-up to second with bases loaded to end the fifth. But this time he came through, doubling off the Green Monster in left to score two runs.
Dustin Ackley followed with a bloop double to left field that landed between shortstop Brock Holt and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs.
“I did not know that was down,” Ackley said. “I knew I got it up in the air. I saw Holt running for it and thought he might have a chance at it.”
But it landed just out of Holt’s diving reach.
The Mariners weren’t done. Robinson Cano added a RBI single. Ackley, who was running on the pitch, scored all the way from first, thanks to a gutty “send” by third-base coach Rich Donnelly and a pretty slide from Ackley for a much-needed insurance run.
“Ack was running the whole way,” Donnelly said. “It was luck of a draw at home plate. But he made a hell of a play”
Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth for his 37th save to secure the win for Dominic Leone (6-2) who pitched one inning.