The duck snort that fell.
It doesn’t have quite the ring of 1995’s “Refuse to Lose,” but Friday’s stunning 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Red Sox in which the Mariners came through with five consecutive two-out hits, could spawn a new “Two outs, so what?” theme for the 2014 squad. Down to their final strike on three separate occasions, the Mariners staved off defeat in Fenway Park to give their playoff run a catapult of a triumph.
The hit that may live in Mariners lore came from the bat of Dustin Ackley in the top of the ninth. With the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third with two outs, Ackley dropped a blooper into shallow left field, to drive home both runs.
An absentee offense looked ready to hand over another game Seattle (69-58) could ill afford to lose. It entered the ninth trailing 3-0 with two hits against a staff that entered the game ranked 10th in the American League with a 3.91 ERA.
Instead, with Logan Morrison on first after a single, Endy Chavez worked a two-out walk on a key 10-pitch at-bat versus closer Koji Uehara. Chris Denorfia, pinch-hitting for Brad Miller in the nine spot, singled to left on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases.
That brought Austin Jackson to the plate. After falling behind 0-2, Jackson rifled Uehara’s third offering off the Green Monster in left field to bring home Seattle’s first two runs. That brought up Ackley.
Uehara got ahead 0-1 before leaving a fastball over the inner half of the plate. Ackley cued it off the end of the bat, flipping a pop-up into shallow left. But as it floated into the territory between leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes and shortstop Brock Holt, it was clear it wasn’t the can of corn it appeared to be.
The ball dropped safely into no-man’s land, eluding a desperate diving attempt by Holt, for a 4-3 lead. Robinson Cano followed with a single, which Ackley, running on the pitch, scored on from first.
Fernando Rodney closed out a stunned Red Sox lineup, yielding only a two-out walk, to pick up his 37th save. The Mariners exploded from the dugout to celebrate a win unlike any they have had in recent memory.
The five hits in the ninth rescued Felix Hernandez from a sure-fire loss. After an off-day Thursday, Seattle looked lethargic as it opened the final series of a nine-game, 11-day road trip in Fenway, a place it hadn’t won since May 2011.
Hernandez and Boston starter Joe Kelly traded zeroes through five innings as neither team could muster a clutch hit. Cespedes altered that script in the sixth inning.
A fortunate bounce off the second-base bag gave Daniel Nava a leadoff double. After Dustin Pedroia grounded out to advance Nava to third, manager Lloyd McClendon had Hernandez intentionally walk David Ortiz, already 2-for-2 to up his career average to well over .300 against Hernandez.
That brought the former Oakland outfielder to the plate. Cespedes grounded into a double play and struck out, but extended a tiring Hernandez with a nine-pitch at-bat. On the final pitch, Hernandez hung a changeup and Cespedes crushed it over the wall in left to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
The hit seemed to take all the air out of Hernandez (13-4, 2.07 ERA) and his teammates. Seattle’s ace walked Allen Craig before getting Will Middlebrooks to pop out on his 116th and final pitch. Hernandez was finished after allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. He struck out seven to surpass 200 strikeouts for the sixth consecutive season.
Brandon Maurer and Dominic Leone combined to hold the deficit with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. But the efforts did little to ignite an offense that struggled to get anything going even after Kelly (2-3, 4.09 ERA) left after five innings.
After notching one hit off Kelly over five innings, a Cano double was all the offense they managed off a bottom-tier Red Sox bullpen until manager John Farrell turned to Uehara.
Boston had been 44-0 when leading after eight innings . . . Seattle outfielder Michael Saunders will miss two or three more minor-league games with the flu. Saunders (oblique) is rehabbing with AAA Tacoma where he is hitting .257 with a .493 on-base percentage in 10 games. His 20-day rehab stint is due to end Aug. 26 . . . The no-decision Friday was Hernandez’s 10th . . . Morrison came into the game hitting .327 over a span of 20 games since July 27 . . . Holt replaced starting shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning after the latter left with concussion-like symptoms from a pitch that hit him in the head.