Mariners push winning streak to five with victory over Boston
Doug Fister allows five hits in 5-2/3 innings and teams with Aaron Laffey and Brandon League for a 2-0 shutout of Red Sox
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ Boston, 10:35 a.m., ROOT
The streak is on5
Since general manager Jack Zduriencik's first season in 2009, the Mariners have three winning streaks of at least five games. The previous two streaks ended after six wins.
April 30, 2011
at Detroit, at Boston
June 23, 2010
at St. Louis, vs. Reds, vs. Cubs
April 15, 2009
at Minnesota, at Oakland, at L.A. Angels
BOSTON — Even a Mariners pitcher on the ropes more times than a tag-team wrestling duo wasn't quite sure how he managed to get off them.
Doug Fister stood in what's becoming a downright fun postgame clubhouse sounding just as puzzled as the Boston Red Sox across the hall when asked how he had pulled this one out. Fister and company had just managed a 2-0 victory Saturday night in a game in which the only time the Red Sox seemingly didn't have guys on base was when they were trudging from their dugout demoralized after the final out.
Somehow, with help from some bounces and a huge call that went their way, the Mariners are winners of five in a row on this trip and a Felix Hernandez start on Sunday away from a rare Fenway Park sweep.
"It still hasn't set in yet," Fister admitted, when asked to explain how he'd survived five walks and kept Boston scoreless for 5-2/3 innings. "It was a struggle, but the defense picked me up."
Not just the defense, but second-base umpire Gerry Davis as well. Just two innings after crew chief Davis had tossed Milton Bradley for chewing out umpire Todd Tichenor for a blown call at first base, Davis made things up to the Mariners big-time by botching another decision at second.
The Red Sox had loaded the bases with nobody out in a 1-0 game, with Adrian Gonzalez at the plate and Fister's pitch count at 86. Gonzalez lined a ball right at Jack Wilson, who caught it and flipped to Brendan Ryan at second base in what appeared — and replays confirmed — to be a late attempt to double off Jacoby Ellsbury.
But Davis awarded the Mariners a double play anyway as the crowd of 37,901 groaned in disbelief, especially upon seeing the replay moments later. Fister had already survived a bases-loaded jam in a 31-pitch first inning and was soon out of this one on a Kevin Youkilis foul out caught by Justin Smoak behind first base.
That helped maintain a lead that Seattle had taken in the third, when Bradley snapped an 0-for-22 slump with a double to left off Boston starter John Lackey that scored Ichiro. While standing on second afterward, Bradley began chirping at umpire Tichenor after he ruled Miguel Olivo out on a close play at first base that replays appeared to show was the wrong call.
The Mariners added a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Wilson. Aaron Laffey danced through an eventful 2-1/3 innings of relief after replacing Fister, then Brandon League survived a leadoff single in the ninth for his seventh save in as many tries.
"That was the worst I've felt in a game all season," a chuckling Laffey admitted after stranding four of Boston's 11 runners left on base.
The Red Sox had come close to scoring on several occasions off Fister in that critical fifth inning even before the bases were loaded. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a double off the top of the Green Monster in left field — missing a home run by a couple of feet, as J.D. Drew would do an inning later.
Then, with two on, Dustin Pedroia worked a nine-pitch walk, but only after a liner to right that was two inches foul from being a run-scoring double, then a similar ball down the left-field line that missed by about a foot.
There were two on and two out in the sixth when Fister was finally pulled. Laffey came in and got Saltalamacchia to foul out to Mariners catcher Olivo near the stands to the right of home plate. Olivo stuck his glove into the first row of seats and snatched the ball from some reaching fans.
"That's the defense we play, that's our game," Fister said. "I don't know where to start. You've got Olivo diving into the stands to catch balls, Smoak the same thing, middle infielders. (Chone) Figgins made a diving catch at third base. That's what every pitcher's dream is. Having defense playing all out, every inning."
Olivo said he never thought about the fans around him as he neared the stands.
"I knew I was going to be touching somebody because there were so many people all around," Olivo said. "I just focused on the ball and didn't look at them."
Laffey was able to jam David Ortiz for a fly out to left with runners on second and third to end the seventh.
Seattle's bullpen has tossed 13-1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
"It's tough to do, especially in this ballpark," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of the shutout, the first at home for Boston in 12 months. "I think these guys are gaining more confidence each day, with what they're doing individually and what we're trying to do with different areas of our club."